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11/23/2012 11:53:00 AM
Feed My Starving Children surpasses 116,000 goal

by Connie Bickman

The Cannon Falls Feed My Starving Children (FMSC) event, started four years ago by the local Community Churches Interaction Council, has been going strong as a community event every year.

Approximately 570 people volunteered on Saturday, November 17, for the food packing event. An additional 30 people volunteered Friday afternoon for setup of the cafeteria.

Participation comes from all age levels, with student to adult ratio being approximately one-third students to two-thirds adults.

"We get a lot of support from church youth groups, Girl Scouts, 4-H clubs, National Honor Society and the Interact club at the high school," reported Joe Coyle, a member of the planning committee."

"We also have several businesses (Gemini, Bergquist, Sweet Harvest Foods...) and service organizations (Lions and Rotary) that use this as a good team building event." He added, "A lot of families have started making this event a tradition around the holidays. It's a perfect volunteer opportunity for all ages, so a family event works great."

There are about 15 people on the committee who organize and fundraise the event. Coyle mainly helps on the registration process by gathering and collating the names. He states, "It's a great team effort. The planning committee enjoys working together, is very appreciative of the community support, and continues to see this as a great community event."

Coyle also stated, "One thing I hope is not overlooked is the role the school and the school staff play in this event. The building is perfect for this activity and staff members (custodians, kitchen staff and the administrators) are extremely helpful. We get volunteers for setup and clean-up, but the school staff is irreplaceable in directing and helping with this function."

This year volunteers packed 15 pallets full - 116,640 meals, which is enough to feed 320 children for an entire year.

The number of meals is based on the cost per meal and the fundraising. In past years the Cannon Falls volunteers have done approximately:

• 107,000 meals in 2009 (17 cents per meal)

• 130,000 meals in 2010 (19 cents per meal)

• 109,000 meals in 2011 (24 cents per meal)

• 116,640 meals in 2012 (22 cents per meal).

Organizers never know what expectations are for younger children as they arrive that first time to pitch in and help save the world. It was reported that one of the younger kids who showed up this year was expecting to see the people who they were feeding come to the event. He must have expected hundreds of culturally diverse kids lined up in the cafeteria. His grandmother explained the mission of FMSC to him and the FMSC video helped him understand the process.

Competition became a fun part of the food packing process. A lot of comments were made during the two-hour shifts from the kids because they thought their station packed the most boxes. Linda Hindal mentioned that her grandson, Trentin, pushed her to pick up the pace - he wanted to pack more than the station with several high school kids. In the end, Trentin's table did "win," so Grandma Linda must have worked a little faster for the team.

Coyle commented on the over-all picture, "My thought participating in this event is how anyone can help solve a huge world problem. A five-year-old child seals a package of food meant to feed six people. Then a teenage National Honor Society student fills a box of food with 216 meals. Next a group of 20 community members fill a packing crate with 7,776 meals. This leads to 600 people from the Cannon Falls community filling 15 packing crates in six hours for a total of 116,640 meals.

"In our 4th year of this event, we're nearing 500,000 meals packed, and we're part of an FMSC organization that has packed over 400,000,000 meals. - but, there is always more to do."

Kevin Ewing, who has been the representative from FMSC the past three years, guiding local efforts, oversees mobile packs in various locations all over the country, from the big megachurches to cooperative efforts, from multiple churches and organizations. While FMSC is appreciative of those mobile pack hosts who are able to supply all the people from their own congregation and write out the check from their own mission budget, Ewing said, "My favorite mobile pack events are the ones such as here in Cannon Falls, which bring together many churches and organizations to work together to feed starving children."

Pastor Paul Paurus, committee member from Riverwood Church, agrees that a great byproduct of this effort is the way people from a variety of churches get to know each other and said that he, personally has made friends from other churches by serving together on the planning committee.

Total donation will be calculated with a percentage of money going to Cannon Falls and Randolph food shelves.

Contributions can still be made with checks payable to CCIC-FMSC Event, and dropped off at Merchants Bank in Cannon Falls, or mailed to CCIC c/o Jenny Holz, event treasurer, 212 Colvill St. W., Cannon Falls, 55009.

A wrap-up meeting at Riverwood Church will take place after Thanksgiving, and plans will most likely be made for the event to return in 2013 on the Saturday before Thanksgiving.

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