Making a million meals in a weekend

By on December 24, 2010

by Lynn Meredith
St. Charles—Who said it can’t be done?

Christ Community Church (CCC), with campuses in St. Charles, Aurora and DeKalb, took a stab at packaging one million meals for Feed My Starving Children (FMSC) on two weekends in December. It’s likely that they succeeded because they had 4,500 volunteers to help them do it.

With 17 shifts of approximately 180 packagers, CCC put into play a well-organized and executed packaging event that included church members, their friends and other organizations that wanted to help.

“It’s an opportunity for people to bring their friends and neighbors,” said Larry Stratton, director of Community Impact for CCC. “People want to serve, but they don’t always know what the opportunities might be. It’s my job to create an on-ramp for people to go into the community.”

Dave Young of St. Charles and 10 of his Sprint co-workers from Itasca, Ill., decided to package meals for FMSC for their office Christmas party instead of going out to celebrate. They teamed up to package the meals as a group.

“I take any opportunity to serve,” said Sprint employee Mark Adams of Bolingbrook, Ill.

Tanglewood neighbors Jennifer Pecor and Katy Balon from Batavia came out for a second year in a row, bringing kids and friends to work the two-hour shift.

“It’s a good bonding experience with the team,” Pecor said.

Dawn Stover from Elburn worked with her Bible study group from CCC for the second year. Working as a group with each team member having a job to do, they put together meals in plastic bags.

Each package consists of six meals made with four ingredients. The meals were designed by Cargill and the University of Minnesota to meet all the nutritional requirements for one day, so that children living in extreme poverty can continue to grow and develop.

Volunteers scooped cup servings of chicken flavoring, soy protein, dehydrated vegetables and white rice, and poured them down a funnel into a plastic bag. The bag is then weighed, sealed and boxed for secure shipment to places like Haiti, Uganda and the Phillipines.

“We partner with 67 countries that have specifically asked to receive food,” FMSC worker Bethany Schwartz told the assembled volunteers during the orientation. “This is part of a long-term solution to help train artisans and farmers, not a one-time fix. We don’t use machines. Machines aren’t going to change the world. You are.”

FMSC announced that it recently broke the 100 million meal mark for the fiscal year.

FMSC packages meals six days a week at their warehouses in Aurora and Schaumburg, Ill. Each month CCC sends a group of volunteers to package meals at the Aurora site.

“It’s a huge opportunity for people to be involved directly with helping the poor,” Stratton said.