If you're looking for some solid underpinning that you feed the world and its hungry, then look no further than the humanitarian efforts by a group called Feed My Starving Children, based out of Brooklyn Park, MN.
Started 17 years ago on a shoestring budget, a hope and prayer, this group has now packaged 25 million complete, nutritious meals since 1994 using soy protein nuggets as a staple ingredient.
“What separates us from other food assistance programs is our ingredient formula,” explains Executive Director and CEO Mark Crea. “It's different from anyone else's because we had the best food scientists in the world — Pillsbury, General Mills and Cargill — develop it to meet the needs of severely malnourished children.”
Truly, the specially formulated meal in a bag is an almost magic lifesaving recipe to combat hunger. Each meal meets the nutritional requirements for one child for one day. It consists of four components:
Chicken flavored mix of vitamins and minerals,
Dehydrated vegetables, which help add color and flavor,
Textured soy protein nuggets, and
Fortified rice for carbohydrates and energy.
“The finished bag can be opened and added to boiling water to feed six starving children,” says Crea. “The cost is about $1 a bag or 17¢/meal.” The meal needs to cook for 20 minutes in boiling water, which ensures the water is safe and the food stays sanitized.
Also, the food, especially the cooked rice, is moist so it helps rehydrate children.
The group has now committed to sending 750,000 meals to tsunami survivors, but would like to hit the 1 million meal mark. They're working to get the additional dollars needed to reach their goal.
Finding volunteers to package the food bags is far from being a problem. Groups sign up sometimes weeks in advance for the opportunity to help this organization.
Last year, 30,000 volunteers helped with the bagging — 80% of those were kids under 18.
“It's such a hands-on, concrete thing,” Crea says. “I tell the kids that from their hands filling the bag, the next person touching it will be a starving child. That's a pretty powerful message.”
Feed My Starving Children focuses on feeding orphans, and is making special efforts to supply that food to tsunami survivors. “This is the first part of a relief effort that we anticipate will continue for years to come,” says Crea. “We'll work to establish long-term support of these youngsters struggling to cope with devastating loss.” Last year the group sent almost 5 million meals to children in 25 countries.
The United Nations estimates that 40,000 children die a day from starvation. That's equal to one tsunami every four days.
Besides being proud of producing the soybeans that go into this massive humanitarian effort, what else can you do? Donate money to the cause by sending your dollars to Feed My Starving Children, 6750 West Broadway, Brooklyn Park, MN 55428. You can also call them at 763-504-2919 or check their Web site at www.fmsc.org.
By the time you read this, I'll have helped package meals for this organization through a volunteer group I belong to called Big Brothers.
I'd like to think the kids who help with this effort will think twice about super-sizing their next Mac meal, knowing that the extra cost for bigger fries could have fed three starving children. I hope I'm right.