Volunteers needed for simple feeding program

Imagine this: spend two hours measuring, mixing, or bagging MannaPack rice, and help feed six starving kids a nutritious meal for each bag you create. Depending upon how productive you are, you could be responsible for feeding hundreds of children. Now how’s that for good use of your time?

Sarah Baranski is a member of Apex Community Church in Washington Twp. who is in charge of a local Feed My Starving Child MobilePack this fall. Baranski’s brother, Drew Gneiser, works with the FMSC organization at its Coon Rapids, Minnesota location. There are additional FMSC locations in Chanhassen and Eagan, Minn.; Aurora and Schaumburg Illinois; and Tempe, Ariz.

“What I like most about FMSC is that it relies almost completely on volunteers,” said Baranski, a Fairborn resident. “For just a little bit of money or time, people can make a big impact.”

Worldwide FMSC does make a huge impact, providing life-giving food to orphanages, schools, clinics, and feeding programs in 70 countries around the world. Last year, MobilePacks across the U.S. produced 34.2 million meals. This year, that number will surge to 45 million meals. A small portion of that number will be assembled at a Dayton-area site, not yet determined, on October 26-27. By mid-September, people can begin to volunteer at www.fmsc.org.

What, exactly, is in these food packs? FMSC developed this formula with the help of Cargill and General Mills: rice, extruded soy nuggets, dehydrated vegetables, vitamins, minerals, and vegetable flavoring. Rice is the most widely-accepted grain in the world, and soy provides a big protein bang for the least amount of bucks. The mix, when cooked with boiling water, enhances health, growth, and physical well-being.

According to Gneiser, the 2012 goal for the organization is to provide a total of 153 million meals. That includes the 45 million food packs from the mobile sites, as well as more than double that amount from FMSC’s permanent packing sites. He went to Haiti earlier this year with other organization staff members. They wanted to check in with a few of their partners, like the Northwest Haiti Christian Mission.

“We wanted to see the programs they were running, and how our food was being used. This food is getting to places that no one else is reaching,” said Gneiser. “We deliver food to people living in 9 x 9 houses in narrow alleyways. It’s literally keeping people alive. It sounds so cliche, but it truly happening.”

A single bag of food costs $1.32 to produce six full meals. According to the FMSC web site, there are four ways to support their mission. 1) Pray for the millions of starving children around the world; 2) Volunteer to package food; and 3) Donate online (just 22 cents pays for one meal); and 4) Purchase merchandise from their online marketplace. Ninety-two percent of all donations to FMSC goes directly toward the food program.

Donations can be sent online, or mailed directly to: 401 93rd Avenue Northwest, Coon Rapids, MN 55433. For more information about this FMSC MobilePack, email Baranski at fmscdayton@gmail.com. Apex is a community of house churches, and Baranski is a 7-year member of the Banyon house church in Beavercreek led by Robert Shepard.

“We’ll need 500 volunteers altogether. We already have volunteers from our Apex Xenia location, Cedarville University, and the University of Dayton,” said Baranski. “Kids as young as six years old can volunteer, as long as an adult is with them.”

FMSC celebrates its 25th anniversary this year. The charity believes that every child has the right to nutritious meals. The personal story of a little girl is featured on the Christian non-profit’s web site. Three-year-old Marilyn, at a mere 14 pounds, was near death from starvation and tuberculosis. After several months of MannaPack meals, she weighed a healthy 33 pounds.