Volunteers Gather To Pack Thousands Of Meals

Volunteers helped to pack over 31,000 meals. (submitted photo)

Volunteers helped to pack over 31,000 meals. (submitted photo)

On Saturday, June 28th nearly 140 volunteers from Central Reformed Church in Oskaloosa gathered to pack over 31,000 meals for Meals from the Heartland as part of what is called a Mobile Hunger Fight. These meals will be distributed around the globe in nations including Haiti, Ghana, Kenya, and El Salvador. Meals from the Heartland, a non-profit headquartered in Des Moines, packages meals in the Midwest and distributes them to those in need both in the United States and throughout the world. What started as a Lenten project of a single Des Moines area church and has grown to become a regional movement involving tens of thousands of volunteers and hundreds of churches, businesses, and organizations. Since 2008 Meals from the Heartland has distributed over 38 million meals, and currently aims to package and distribute in excess of 10 million meals per year.

Central Reformed first learned of Meals from the Heartland two years ago when one of its members watched a news report about the program on a Des Moines TV station. That year Central Reformed was able to raise enough money to pack 20,000 meals with a team of 100 volunteers. That event was such a success that the church saw the need to host a second Mobile Hunger Fight, this time raising enough funds ($6,200) to pack over 31,000 meals with 140 volunteers.

According to Andy Baker, Director of Outreach at Central Reformed, one of the major advantages of hosting a Mobile Hunger Fight is how it provides a “hands on” way for people in the US to get involved in addressing an international crisis. A volunteer packs an average of 221 meals per hour at a Moble Hunger Fight, enough to feed someone for 2 ½ months. “I think most people in America understand there is a real food crisis overseas,” commented Baker, “but they don’t know what they can do about it without donating a large sum of money or making an expensive trip. Meals from the Heartland provides an opportunity for anyone, regardless of ability or financial resources, to spend even just one or two hours making a substantial impact on the lives of others.”

The meal packets assembled at Central Reformed were a blend of rice, soy protein, seasoning, and a vitamin mix. The soy protein is grown in Iowa, while the rice comes from Missouri. Volunteers work in teams to pour food into packets, ensure packets are the proper weight, seal them for freshness, and package them for transport. “It was exciting to see volunteers from elementary age through senior citizens working together. It was an incredibly fun atmosphere all morning, plus you could really tell people were truly excited to be giving their time to impact others. We pray that our work proves to be a real blessing to all those who receive these meals”

For more information on the work of Meals from the Heartland, or to learn how you can get involved, you can visit their website, www.mealsfromtheheartland.org.

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