MINOOKA — More than 500 volunteers from five local churches measured and packaged enough food in one day to feed 272 starving children for an entire year.
By working together, parishioners from Minooka Bible Church, Village Christian Church, Resurrection Lutheran, Grace Baptist and First Baptist of Minooka filled, sealed, labeled and packed 101,088 packets that will make more than 600,000 tasty, one-dish meals for malnourished children around the globe.
The food packets are designed by food scientists to provide malnourished children with the proper amounts of 21 vitamins and minerals, protein and carbohydrates. The organization that puts it all together is Feed My Starving Children (FMSC).
For the second year, the churches joined forces to be a conduit for FMSC. The organization, with locations in Illinois, Minnesota and Texas, is a non-profit Christian group whose mission is to feed the starving children of the world.
FMSC partners with local churches, as they did at Minooka Bible Church on April 20, to do the labor needed to package the meals. FMSC provides the food – which, in this instance, included rice, soy protein, dehydrated vegetables, vitamins and flavoring — and the churches or community organizations provide the manpower.
When Chris Trivisonno of Village Christian Church first went to his pastor with the idea last year, Nate Ferguson wasn’t so sure they could pull it off.
“We had been thinking and praying about it ourselves. I didn’t think we could do it; I said let’s call Arol (McFadden, pastor at Minooka Bible Church),” Ferguson said. “We found a couple other churches that wanted to jump in and we pulled it off.”
As a matter of fact, so many people answered the call to help they actually had to turn volunteers away.
While different churches have different nuances and styles, there’s no reason why they can’t join together for the greater good, said McFadden. There’s no disagreement that feeding starving children is something Jesus would want.
“We recognize we have differences, but that’s all on the back burner compared to the reality of what Jesus wants from us,” McFadden said. “We need to unite and work together, and do what Jesus wants us to do, and this is one of those things.”
Each Manna Rice packet costs 22 cents to produce. Together, the churches paid $22,000 out of their own pockets to pay the cost of this year’s event, said Trivisonno.
“All the churches come together and take the money out of their mission funds or hold fundraisers,” Trivisonno said. “This is great because you have people from your own community.”
Groups of assembly lines were set up in the church’s worship center turned packing room. Each crew member had a task, from measuring one of the ingredients into the bag or manning the food funnel, to sealing, labeling and packing the food into boxes.
“Warehouse workers,” roamed the floor and were ready in an instant to fill the needs of the assembly line workers, whether it was refilling ingredients or taking away filled boxes.
To keep the process moving along smoothly, assembly workers yelled out what they needed by making up their own cheers.
“Hey, hey, we’re all done; come over here and get you some,” chanted one group each time they filled a box and had it ready to be taped shut and loaded on a pallet.
The three FMSC employees encouraged assembly workers from the stage and created fun challenges to keep the mood upbeat and fun.
“We don’t use any kind of machinery, just volunteers,” said Ursula Maley, Mobile Pack Supervisor for FMSC. “It’s light-hearted.”
Seventy-five percent of volunteers from FMSC are under the age of 12, Maley said, which makes it a perfect event for families and children.