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Food for the starving

Hundreds of people will come together in Morris on Aug. 26-27 with a common goal… to prepare thousands of meals for children who are in desperate need of nourishment. Morris area churches are hosting the 7th annual “Feed My Starving Children” mobile pack event at the Morris Elementary School Cafeteria.

“We have set an initial goal to pack 150,000 meals this year,” said Sheryle Dahl, of Morris, who is helping to coordinate the event along with Denise Olson, of Morris, and a team of other volunteers. The steering committee consists of representatives from Trinity Lutheran in Cyrus, and the Evangelical Free, Assumption Catholic, and Apostolic North churches in Morris.  “The cost to produce each meal is 22 cents, so we need to raise at least $33,000 to cover the cost of the ingredients.” Each pack is filled with dried vegetables, soy protein, rice and vitamin-packed flavoring.

“Feed My Starving Children” (FMSC) is a nonprofit Christian organization founded in 1987 and is committed to feeding God’s children hungry in body and spirit. The approach was simple then and remains simple today: Children and adults hand pack meals specifically formulated for malnourished children, and those meals are shipped across the world to the countries that need them most. The group is currently sending food to nearly 70 countries worldwide.

An estimated 925 million people are chronically hungry, though there is enough food in the world for everyone to have adequate nutrition, according to Olson, and every day about 6,200 children die of starvation.

All the ingredients for the food packs will be brought to Morris by semi-truck, and they will be labelled and filled by volunteers before being boxed up and put back on the truck for distribution to needy countries.

“These meals are meant for the poorest of the poor, people who are starving to death,” said Dahl. “Some are literally eating dirt they are so hungry.”

The first FMSC mobile pack event in Morris was started by Don and Tamela Sperr of the Morris Evangelical Free Church in 2008, shortly after they went on a mission trip to Haiti. They saw many hungry and starving children there. They also saw many boxes with blue labels on them which said “Feed My Starving Children.” Upon returning home, they asked themselves, “What can we do?” They researched the organization with the blue labels, found them to be reputable, found out about mobile pack events, and committed to organizing an event in Morris.

“Feed My Starving Children is 100 percent donor funded,” said Dahl. “And for the ninth straight year, Feed My Starving Children has received the highest 4-star rating from Charity Navigator, one of the toughest watchdogs of charitable organizations.” Only one percent of charities ranked by Charity Navigator have received at least nine consecutive 4-star evaluations.

Dahl started volunteering the first year of the Morris mobile pack event after seeing a call for volunteers in the local newspaper. “It has been a wonderful experience,” said Dahl.  “Many people from our church (Trinity in Cyrus) got involved with the Evangelical Free members, and it is so fun to work together! Now there are many churches helping out, as well as sports teams, civic groups, 4-H and other service groups, and all sorts of people who show up to help.” Although FMSC is a Christian organization, it is not a requirement to be a Christian in order to participate.

Volunteers who sign up for the mobile pack event will each work a two-hour shift.  Dahl and Olson say the event is festive and fun, with lots of smiles and lots of energy.

Last year, the Morris group packaged 233,280 meals which basically fed 639 kids for a whole year. There were 808 volunteers helping in 2013. In the six years of packing in Morris, the group has packed 1,224,285 meals. The total number of volunteers so far has nearly eclipsed 6,000.  Tamela Sperr was the driving force to get this event to occur in Morris, and she continued to chair the annual event for six years, until this year when she is so busy being a mom to her two adopted daughters from Haiti.

“We will need volunteers again this year to pack the meals, but right now we need financial help to accomplish our goal,” said Olson. If you would like to send in a donation, mail it to Trinity Lutheran Church, c/o Sheryle Dahl, 200 East Main St., Cyrus, MN 56323 or to Morris Evangelical Free Church, c/o Robin Smith, 901 Scotts Avenue, Morris, MN, 56267. Write FMSC with Event #1408-179 in the memo line.

Please watch for further information on volunteering for the mobile pack event in area church bulletins or papers. Volunteers will be sought in mid-July (about six weeks prior to the pack event). You may also sign up to volunteer or just get more information at  Click on Volunteer, then Mobile Pack Events, then MN, then Morris Area Churches, to see the shifts available. For more information, call Sheryle Dahl at 320-815-2015 or Denise Olson at 320-795-2209.

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