Packing 160,000 Meals For Hungry Children -- 380 Grams at a Time

WATERLOO, Iowa - With a full parking lot on Kimball Avenue and the high energy of excitable young people inside the Westminster Presbyterian Church, three days of packing food culminated on Wednesday night with an impressive result.

"We're going to end up packing about 163,000 meals," said Marv DeWaard, an organizer behind this effort. "There's always that sense of pride to be able to do something to feed that many children who are starving."

DeWaard said the church is in its seventh year with the Feed My Starving Children program where teams of volunteers work, in an energetic, assembly-line style, to put together packets of meals.

Each packet holds the equivalent of about 36 meals and must weigh between 380-400 grams.

Cheryl Pease, of Reinbeck, led a church youth group with her children, including her 16-year-old daughter, Cydney.

"I think it's a really good opportunity for kids who have a lot, who have everything, to see what goes into a project like this and how they can serve the greater world at large," said Cheryl Pease.

Cydney Pease, a junior at Gladbrook-Reinbeck High School, worked as a point person for when the four dry ingredients - vitamin powder, vegetables, soy and rice - came in and were ready for weighing and packaging.

"After I got my groove going, it was fine," said Cydney Pease, now in her third year of helping out. "I just gave a couple of hours of my time for people so they can have a meal where they aren't promised a meal everyday like we are."

DeWaard said the 167,000 packed meals at Westminster were distributed all throughout Haiti.

"It could go to Nicaragua, Honduras, Liberia, 70 different countries," said DeWaard. "We pack them and, in a week's time, they tell us where they are sending them."
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