NAPPANEE — Witness 400 volunteers packed in a church gymnasium working together to help feed the world’s starving children, and it becomes clear that it takes many such efforts put forth to alleviate the suffering.
This is what has been going on since Tuesday at Nappanee Missionary Church, as a total of 8,000 volunteers have worked a total of 20 two-hour shifts in groups of 400, so as to reach a set goal of preparing 2.1 million Feed My Starving Children MobilePack meals.
Feed My Starving Children is a nonprofit Christian organization based in Coon Rapids, Minn.
Eighteen thousand of the developing world’s children die each day because of starvation and Nappanee Missionary Church has worked tirelessly to raise the funds to purchase the foodstuffs that make up the life-saving MobilePack meals. Each meal costs 22 cents to produce, and consist of chicken, vegetables, soy and rice.
“They actually have been put together as a perfect meal for a malnourished child,” said Dave Engbrecht, senior pastor at Nappanee Missionary Church for 33 years. “This year, Feed My Starving Children will do 130 million meals as an organization. They distribute through embedded partners in all these countries around the world.”
“I had heard about Feed My Starving Children and the work that they had done, and the fact that they create an experience on site that not only allows people to pack food that gets distributed around the world, but also educates them on the whole problem of world hunger. The experience does more than put food together. It impresses people that you’ve got to be involved in this thing. And so we heard about it, we experimented with 300,000 meals (in 2010), it grew to 1.2 million meals (in 2011), and this year it’s 2.1 million meals,” Engbrecht said.
Engbrecht praised the community’s participation. “A lot of factories, corporations, and organizations have come. Today (Friday) we had over 300 fifth-graders from three or four different school districts. In the last two days we have had over 400 high school students from Jimtown that participated, and tonight (Friday) we’ll have over 200 Bethel College students.”
Ursula Maley, a MobilePack Supervisor from Aurora, Ill., spoke of the challenges involved in putting together a FMSC MobilePack event. “Typically when they do a MobilePack event the challenge is fundraising, and that doesn’t seem to be an issue here in Nappanee,” Maley said. “They need to purchase the materials that they’re going to turn into meals. Another challenge is finding the volunteers that are going to come and pack the food in the time that is allotted. But it doesn’t seem to be an issue here. The work ethic of the folks here in Nappanee has really led this to be a non-issue as far as getting enough volunteers to come and pack the food.”
The partnership between Nappanee Missionary Church, the local community, and Feed My Starving Children is putting a lot of smiles on children’s faces around the world.