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Thorner: Feed My Starving Children turns hunger into hope



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By Nancy Thorner - 

Getting together as a group and setting aside time and energy to do something for others in need is inspiring. That's what I found when my home church – Lakeview Presbyterian Church PC in  Mundelein – organized a . group of volunteers to assist the local Christian non-profit organization, Feed My Starving Children (FMSC) in Libertyville.   

Signing in 15 minutes early with my church group as instructions to do on Thursday afternoon, August 16, 2018, for our scheduled volunteer time of 2:30 – 4:30 pm, hair nets were handed out as a sanitary measure for packing food (white latex gloves also had to be worn by all food handlers), after which we were directed to take seats in the auditorium to a wait orientation. Two short film were shown, one to acquaint volunteers with the FMSC program, and the second to instruct volunteers how each work station was set up for packing food. 

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It was sobering to learn that 1 in 9 children go hungry every day and that 6,200 children die each day because of malnutrition and hunger-related diseases.  I was amazed to learn that each meal costs less than a quarter to make, and that FMSC devotes more than 90% of total donations directly to feeding kids.  FMSC receives no government aid.  

The Libertyville, Illinois site is one of 8 permanent packing sites in the US that works to feed hungry and malnourished kids around the world, so they can go to school and are able to learn. In 2017, more than 333 million meals were packed with the help of over 1.2 million volunteers and then distributed to nearly 70 countries around the world.  Over 779,000 children were fed daily. This year's goal of Feed My Starving Children is to produce 365 million meals, 30 million more than last year. 

In addition to the Libertyville Packing site for volunteering here in IL, there are two more sites in Schaumburg and Aurora.  There are also two packing sites in MN (Coon Rapids, Chanhassen, and Eagan), one in Mesa, Arizona, and mobile pack sites nationwide.  Each year volunteers from families, churches, businesses, and civic group hand-pack meals working as teams in two hour shifts to fill and seal bags in assembly line fashion.  I can attest to the fun atmosphere that exists and the satisfaction that comes from helping to transform the futures of children, families, communities and nations.   

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Founded in 1987, FMSC is the original and largest supplier of nutritionally complete, packaged dry meals, as an independent organization not associated with the UN.  The all-vegetarian MannaPack used by FMSC was developed by food scientists to quickly reverse and prevent malnutrition so children can grow and thrive.  Each MannaPack contains 20 vitamins and minerals that are added to dried vegetables, soy protein, and rice (the last ingredient) before being sealed and placed in boxes to ready for shipment.  Each bag must weigh between 380 and 400 grams. Rice is either added or taken out of each MannaPack so the weight requirement is met.  

MannaPack ingredients are produced here in the U.S. and paid for by donations:  Rice comes from Louisiana; soy, Illinois; New Jersey, veggies, and vitamins, MN.   Volunteers work two-hour shifts in teams at work stations that are set up with all that is needed to make and seal MannaPacks. I was amazed to learn that each meal costs less than a quarter to make and that FMSC devotes more than 90 of total donations directly to feeding kids.  FMSC receives no government aid. 

At the finish of our 2-hour shift, the day was not yet over at the Libertyville site. The packing schedule for each FMSC packing site offers five two-hour time slots Tuesday through Saturday and two on a Monday for volunteers to sign up for.  Such an operation requires a huge number of volunteers.  Go here to sign up to volunteer at one of the FMSC packing sites.  Check here to find where and when a MobilePack site is scheduled for your state.

We were to learn that the food packed during the Lakeview Presbyterian Church PC two-hour shift was destined for Nicaragua. When all the food going to Nicaragua assembled and ready to be shipped, the recipient of the food will be On Eagles Wings Ministry in Arizona, a partner organization, who has assumed the cost of shipping the packed food containers filled with MannaPacks to Nicaragua.   

Having traveled to several of the countries where FMSC meals are being sent, I have seen and bought some of the craft items that are indigenous to the countries.  As such I was amazed at the quality of the handmade goods purchased from hardworking artisans in communities receiving FMSC meals. Each packing site has a gift shop where handicraft items are sold.  They are also for sale at Mobile Pack event and online at this site. 

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Thinking ahead to Christmas, I couldn't resist buying numerous items such as beaded bracelets and necklaces from Kenya; lawn ornaments from Haiti made from oil drums, decorative plant ornaments, and colorful mugs fashioned from clay; grass woven purses from Uganda; and a pine needle basket from Nicaragua and a hand sewn scarf.  Every item has a tag telling where it was made, who the artisan was, and the number of meals the purchase of an item provides.

Feed the Hungry Children receives no help from government and depends on donations to operation.  You can help children who would otherwise die of malnutrition and hunger-related diseases by contributing at this site

Also consider volunteering as an individual or as part of a group effort by a church or business.  All will be enriched by helping to turn hunger into hope with your own two hands.

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  1. Great to hear about this program to provide aid to so many in need. Just a couple of small errors to note: The name of the church is Lakeview Presbytyerian Church PCA (not PC) and it is located in Vernon Hills (not Mundelein – although we certainly welcome our friends in Mundelein!).