“Chicken! Vegetables! Soy! Rice!”
“Box 5 for Group 7!”
All of these chants were audible in the banquet rooms at Gustavus last weekend — the weekend when the Gustavus community prepared 256,608 meals to feed starving children worldwide.
On Feb. 12-13, 2011, Gustavus Adolphus College, Thrivent Financial for Lutherans, and Feed My Starving Children collaborated to host an event on the Gustavus campus that addressed the complexities of food security and local and global hunger through speakers, advocacy work, and an emergency food pack.
More than 1,000 volunteers came to Gustavus between 9:30 a.m. and 9 p.m. Saturday and from noon until 5:30 p.m. Sunday. They were Gustavus students and faculty, members of congregations from within 30 miles of campus, local girl scouts, local high school organizations, such as the national honor society, and many more.
During 6 two-hour and 30-minute shifts, small groups of people worked together like well-oiled machines. In fun competition, the groups or teams of 15 people each raced to pack meals and fill boxes.
A series of steps had to be followed to prepare the meals. And, each person had a valuable role in the process. First, scoops of dehydrated chicken and vegetables, soy powder, and white rice were dumped into a funnel. That food was collected in a small plastic bag being held at the bottom of the funnel by an individual. Next, the bag was weighed by another person. Each bag was sealed by a two-person team. And, finally the food packs (each pack serving 6 people) were placed in boxes (each box containing 33 packs). When filled, the boxes were gathered and put on pallets (each pallet held 33 boxes), and the pallets were loaded into semi-truck trailers.
In another area of the banquet rooms, groups of people were applying stickers to bags. And others were carefully running around to refill supplies.
But that’s not all. The weekend was full of education. There were a handful of guest speakers and numerous stations where people could learn about a variety of food and hunger topics or causes. One booth, with samples, taught that homemade hot chocolate is less expensive, more nutritious, and more delicious than store bought hot chocolate.
All who volunteered for the food pack — regardless of age — learned that the food used was specifically designed to be culturally sensitive for anywhere in the world. In fact, each volunteer learned it was designed to be high in calorie and nutrients for those who may not have a lot of other food choices.
One goal of the Good Food For All event was to have people start thinking about how to make systematic change.
“Something we really hope people left the event with was an understanding that hunger is a very complex puzzle. And that they are asking: Why are people hungry in the first place both in Minnesota and around the world? We are hoping people left thinking: ‘Great, I packed some meals and feel good about that, yet what can I do to stay informed and aware about the complexities of food security,” says Barb Larson Taylor ’93, assistant to the president for special projects.
The trucks pulled away from campus Sunday night, Feb. 13, 2011 with 36 pallets of food . . . enough to fill one large container that within 2 weeks will be on its way to people in need.
That feels good!
To learn more about the event, watch this video: