Thursday, April 10, 2008

What great fun brilliance can be

This past Sunday I participated in something brilliant. I don’t mean that lightly.

I belong to a small study-group of 6 families from our church. For 2 hours we filled bags with food for the starving children of Zimbabwe. In fact we filled 23 boxes of 36 bags each. Each bag contains 6 meals. So in 2 hours we made 4968 meals!

Our small group was part of about 150 volunteers for the 2 hour shift. The shift made about 157 boxes or about 34000 meals! At the end we learned that 34000 meals will feed 96 kids for 1 year! NINETY SIX.

Now I lied a little. For the first 15 minutes we received an orientation and then some training. Then when we had about 15 minutes remaining we were stopped and instructed to clean up and then pray over the food. So we really only had about 90 minutes. Ninety-Six kids eat for ONE YEAR; ninety minutes work.

I have not gotten to the brilliant part yet. Over half the 150 workers were kids. How do they do this? Robots? Packing machines? No and no. They have the whole process down so very simple and yet the final product is very professional.

We made bags of carefully measured ingredients, that all fall within a specific range of grams, nutritious, and tasty. Also they were vegetarian meals. We learned that there are more people in the world that don’t eat meat than those that do. There were only 4 ingredients at the production level. A chicken flavored powder, dried vegetables and vitamins, soy for protein, and rice for energy.

The whole process worked like this: There was a metal funnel. One person put a bag on the bottom then said “GO” then 4 people that were waiting with their ingredients already measured out added them to the funnel in the correct order. Then the bag is weighed. If the weight is out of range they make adjustments. Then the bag is heat-sealed and placed in the packing area waiting to go into a box. When there are exactly 36 bags in the packing area someone puts the bags in the box and seals it.

Finally someone says “1, 2, 3” and our entire group would yell a chant that we came up with to inform other volunteers that we have a box ready.

All the while they blasted out with Mowtown classics. It was great. We were singing and dancing while we worked.

The 20 something’s that ran the shift were from an organization called Feed my starving Children. They were very intelligent, articulate, well informed, funny and passionate. When it was over they gave us a small sample of the food and it was tasty.

Our branch of our church made over 200k meals over the weekend. We were the first branch of our church to do this. Before the month is over it is estimated that the whole church, all the branches, will make 3.5 Million meals.

As I understand it 2003 was the year they started this. Their total was 3 million meals that year. Over the years they have done progressively more and more. They hope to do 50 million this year and 100 million by 2010.

It was a total blast and beyond satisfying. Feed My Starving Children is a brilliant bunch.