More than 1,470 people volunteered with the international mission groups Children’s Cup and Feed My Starving Children to pack 272,160 meals to feed hungry African children during an ambitious “mobile pack” event Friday and Saturday at Healing Place Church.
“We hit our goal,” reported Jim Brock, a volunteer coordinator for the Prairieville-based Children’s Cup, and a shipping container filled with the food, enough to feed 745 children for a year, will soon be on its way to southern Africa.
The volunteers, from dozens of churches, schools, businesses and youth and civic groups, also donated $50,000 for the shipping, but an additional $12,000 is still needed, organizers said.
The story, however, is not about the thousands of “Manna Pack” meals or even the good feelings the volunteers experienced — the story is about the children both here and over there.
“I want to feed hungry children,” said Jéan Treas, 8, a member of a Healing Place team, as she weighed a 380-gram bag holding a cup of rice, a cup of soy meal, a spoonful of powdered vitamins and a scoop of dried carrots and potato flakes.
“We’re doing this to make sure no more kids are hungry in Africa,” said Renee Knighten, 10, a member of Girl Scout Troop 10055, as she scooped rice into a bag that, when cooked, will feed six children.
“We need to show them how important it is to give back to the community,” added Scout mother Shata Chapman.
The floor of the cavernous Healing Place arena was transformed into a food processing plant as volunteers, all wearing head nets, manned a dozen U-shaped tables in three, two-hour shifts on Friday afternoon and evening and again in three, two-hour shifts on Saturday.
The process of scooping and filling and heat-sealing the individual bags took the volunteers just a few minutes, and a 36-bag box was quickly filled and carried to an awaiting pallet.
“We were blown away” with the response, said Ben Rodgers, Children’s Cup executive director. “This food is literally life for these kids.”
Many of the volunteer groups were local, Brock said, including some of the athletes from LSU and high schools.
The Rev. Jerry Sharp, pastor of Sunnyside Church, brought 43 people on a two-hour bus ride from Clayton on Saturday.
“This gives our young people an opportunity to serve and shows them there are children who don’t have bowls full of snacks or all the food we have here to choose from,” Sharp said.
Paula Crowe has been to Mozambique twice with Children’s Cup and funded a building there in honor of her deceased son.
“Seeing the other end of this really gets my heart,” Crowe said as emotion rose in her voice. “It’s overwhelming, really, to see what those kids go through just to get a meal.”
For information on Children’s Cup, visit www.childrenscup.org.