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Mobile packing event helps feed kids around the world

In six years, Morris area volunteers have packed approximately 1.22 million meals – enough to feed 3,354 children for an entire year – through Feed My Starving Children. (Submitted Photo)

MORRIS – In 2008, Tamela Sperr and her husband, Don, took a mission trip to Haiti that changed their lives, inspiring them to adopt two children and organize a mobile packing event for Feed My Starving Children in the Morris area.

“When we went to Haiti the first time, everybody we saw, every school we went to, every orphanage, everything, had these blue meals from Feed My Starving Children,” said Sperr.

Organizers “begged, borrowed and stole” to get the 2008 event off the ground, Sperr said. Despite not knowing much about the organization or the mission, the 624 volunteers packed nearly 150,000 meals. The number of volunteers and number of meals packed has increased every year since.

In six years, Morris area volunteers have packed approximately 1.22 million meals – enough to feed 3,354 children for an entire year.

Feed My Starving Children is a Christian, nonprofit hunger relief organization that was founded in 1987. The organization distributes MannaPack Rise meals to children in nearly 70 countries.

The food packs, which are hand-packed by volunteers, was developed by Minnesota food scientists to specifically address the needs of children suffering from malnourishment.

Volunteers can help in a variety of ways. Many will work at one of four stations, adding ingredients to the meal packet. Each packet consists of rice, soy nuggets for protein, a mix of vitamins and minerals, and dehydrated vegetables for nutrition and flavor. The meals are cooked simply in boiling water and cost just 22 cents to produce.

“What I love about Feed My Starving Children is that you see the results immediately – you pack the meal, you see the results,” said Sperr. “There’s not an organization that I know of that has a more clear-cut mission and a more clear-cut process.”

For the last seven years, Feed My Starving Children has been ranked as a four star charity by Charity Navigator, an independent charity evaluator. Ninety-three percent of the total donations to the organization go directly to feeding children.

“To me, that’s really important,” said Sheryle Dahl, this year’s lead organizer. “If I’m going to give my time and energy and money to something, I want to make sure that the kids and the families are truly benefitting from it.”

This year’s mobile packing event in Morris is scheduled for Tuesday, Aug. 26 and Wednesday, Aug. 27. The organizing committee has set an initial goal to pack 176,000 meals, which means fundraising about $38,720.

The packing event is held at the end of August to fit between other schedules. University of Minnesota, Morris athletes are back (many of these teams organize “competitive packing” shifts), but since school hasn’t started for the Morris Area School District, the elementary school cafeteria is available to host the event.

Volunteers can sign up to help or donate online at The Morris packing event number is 1408-179. Interested volunteers can also contact Ellie Tomford at 320-589-2808 to sign up for a shift. Volunteers from around the region are welcomed and encouraged to participate.

Donations can also be dropped off with Tamela Sperr at Edward Jones or Robin Smith at the Rentz Agency in Morris.