The Feed My Starving Children mobile pack site was coming to the region every year before COVID-19. This year it’s back August 24-27 at the Michiana Event Center in Shipshewana, Ind. It is large enough to accommodate the groups that have arrived to refill Manna Pack meals.
Schoolchildren were under the guidance of teachers during the day. In the evening, adult and youth groups from local churches arrived along with families, service clubs and volunteers from local businesses.
On Wednesday, a group from St. Paul de Colon Lutheran Church visited the MEC. Jeanne Burton-Lee rallied volunteers as she has done for about eight years.
Why? Because “276 million people go hungry every day in our world,” Burton-Lee said. “It’s something we can do to help feed someone. Our Lord was really great in feeding people.
She spoke as the group added the exact measurements needed for a package – a cup of this, a cup of that, a spoon of several other items. Two members of the group sealed the packages and filled the boxes.
The event ran like a well-oiled machine both at the tables where the groups filled the packages and with a host of volunteers keeping the tables stocked with ingredients and loading the filled boxes onto a pallet – 36 boxes per pallet.
It was high energy. A cheer erupted as one of the many groups filled another box containing 36 packets. Other volunteers had sitting jobs to add labels to packages that had not yet been filled. Everyone wore a hair net and gloves.
Kurt Kuhlmann, new pastor at St. Paul’s, found himself at a packing site for the first time.
“I’m really impressed with how mechanical it is,” he said. “Any age can do it.”
Feed My Starving Children, founded in 1987 by Minnesota businessman Richard Proudfit, is a non-profit organization.
Meals are developed by food science and nutrition professionals to supplement nutritional needs and reduce malnutrition issues. Nutrition allows children to grow, thrive and develop to their full potential, according to their website, fmsc.org.
They travel around the world where a need exists, bringing food to schools, orphanages, clinics and feeding programs. More recently, Ukraine was added to their list.
“Hunger is still the cause of nearly half of deaths among children under five,” their website said. “Based on these data, we estimate that at least 6,200 children die every day from causes related to undernutrition.”
Often one person in a group brings it to the attention of everyone else. For the Colon group, it was Burton-Lee.
“Jeanne is such a missionary-minded person,” Kuhlmann said. “I am honored to be his pastor.”
Nathan Rasbaugh, youth pastor at LaGrange First Church of God and a Bronson native, brought about 20 teenagers. His youth invited friends and some of the football team came.
Dawn Wisler, who attends Radiant Life Church in Sturgis and is on staff at YFC/Campus Life, was on hand all week at FMSC, volunteering.
Wednesday was the first day the volunteers arrived, Wisler said. It took several days to set up the operations under the direction of Rustin Krapfl, host of the event.
By the end of the Michiana event, they expect to have packed 200,000 meals, said Auriella Taylor, volunteer facilitator for the program.
“Over 50 pallets is our goal,” Taylor said.