Feed My Starving Children

No, I didn’t take the day off.  Recently I was given a reminder to be grateful for all the food we have (and not just the secret Oreo stash in the back of the cupboard…) when I had the opportunity to chaperone on a third grade field trip to Feed My Starving Children’s (FMSC)  Libertyville packing center.

We were there to hand pack a life-saving food mixture which would be delivered to one of the 70 countries to which they distribute food. This food mixture, which they have named “Manna”, was developed by a team of food scientists to provide a meal that could be transported easily and safely prepared with boiling water. One bag of food provides meals for six children (12 half-cup servings);  amazingly, each bag costs only around $1.32, and more impressive, about 92% of all donations goes to the food program, and all the meals are funded and assembled by donor-volunteers.

That day, we were to be packing “MannaPack Potato-D”, developed for people with extreme diarrhea, which is the number one cause of death in malnourished children in underdeveloped countries. The volunteer explained (over 9-year-old giggles at the “D” world) that children suffering from diarrhea have a hard time absorbing nutrients, and this potato-based food mixture has been very successful in meeting the needs of children suffering this condition.

We washed our hands carefully, doffed hair nets, and were given a quick and concise demonstration of how to carefully (every drop is precious) measure, mix, pack and seal the food packs. After that the music was cranked up and we began our “work”. As each team filled a box with food-packs, a cheer would go up from the packing table, letting the runners know they could come take another box.

The spirit in the room was energetic and contagious! The children quickly found their groove, and the hour or so passed quickly, laughing and singing along with the music all the while taking care with their chosen job.

Here we are, our brave lone girl and boys at the ready, hair netted, scooping, pouring, measuring and laughing as they went!  I really was impressed with how serious they took their responsibility, making sure that each bag hit its weight parameters. Yes – they could be responsible and have a great time, too. As the only over-18 in this group, I had the fun job of sealing each bag!


Just look at all the Potato-D we packed!


At the end of our time there, after clearing off our work stations and making them ready for the next group to come in (surprisingly, there was no grumbling throughout the cleanup process, everyone chucked right in), we gathered in the adjacent warehouse room.


As we gathered around the boxes, now palleted and shrink wrapped, ready for shipment, a volunteer said a prayer, asking for safe transport of the foods to its recipients, for blessings upon those who would eat it, and blessing for those who enable it to get to its destination.  You know me, weeping willow that I am – it’s really hard to look cool for your 9-y.o. when you have tears running down your face, but I couldn’t help but think what a gift it was to be able to share this experience with all these great kids.

That is a LOT of food. When you think of its potential to save children from starvation, it’s a pretty awesome sight.



On the way out of the packing area, the children were given a special “treat”: a sample of the Manna-D which we had been packing that day.

When I asked what they thought of it, the shouted response from these first-world kids was a chorus of “Gross!” and “Disgusting!”  I gave them a pointed look and asked “Can you imagine how HUNGRY children must be to eat that porridge twice a day and be glad to eat it?”

Their eyes grew very wide and round.

“When you go home tonight, and your mom puts something on the table that you don’t like, like broccoli, or peas, think about all those starving children who have nothing to eat and how they would love to be eating it!”  (Yes, I pulled a version of the “Starving children in Africa would be glad to have that”, but this time, they got it.)

Solemn nods all around.

Moms, no need to thank me….

* * * *

If you live in Minnesota, Tempe, Arizona or in the suburban Chicago area, you can take part in packing either as a family or part of a larger team (work/school/church/friends). Nationwide, they also host “MobilePack” events, where they bring in their supplies, and you just provide the people, and of course, you can make a much-needed cash donation as well.  Go to www.fmsc.org for more information.


  1. Dad said that was the same version of feeding the “pagin children” that the nuns told him about.

  2. Gmom Phyl says

    What a wonderful project!

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