WAVERLY - Ellen Gustafson puts one scoop each of a nutrient-packed chicken flavoring and dried vegetables into a clear plastic bag. A larger helping of soy nuggets and white rice are added to the mix.
The small bag, weighing between 380 and 400 grams, is then vacuum sealed and placed in a cardboard box along with 35 other meal packets. When the box is full its contents will provide a nutritious and filling meal to 210 children who may otherwise rely on Haitian biscuits - a mixture of dirt, water and shortening - to quell the never-ending hunger aching in their bellies. The meals were specially designed by food scientists at Cargill, General Mills and Pillsbury.
"This is just the right thing to do," said Gustafson, a freshman at Wartburg College. "It takes two hours. There is no reason not to."
In just four days more than 1,200 volunteers will package 175,000 bags - each containing six individual servings when boiling water is added to the mixture - that will be distributed to starving people in more than 60 countries through Feed My Starving Children, a nonprofit Christian organization. The Waverly packaging event is sponsored by the Campus Ministries program and funded through donations and grants.
The group needed to raise about $29,750 to pay for the supplies needed to package this year's meals. Feed My Starving Children mission partners stationed in each of the served areas are then responsible for the shipping and distribution costs. Some meals go to schools and orphanages; others are distributed to families in a village.
Randon Ruggles, a Wartburg senior, helped coordinate the event this year and last year. He grew up just a few miles from the organization's headquarters in the Twin Cities and participated in packing events throughout high school. Though he has been involved in numerous service projects throughout the years he believes it is the education component that sets Feed My Starving Children apart from some other organizations.
That is one reason he worked to double the number of people involved with the packaging this year. He hopes that even if the project does not continue next year, those involved will seek out other ways to help those less fortunate than themselves.
"With an awareness comes a responsibility," he said. "We take for granted what we have."
Contact Emily Christensen at (319) 291-1570 or firstname.lastname@example.org.