A community is coming together to take on one of the biggest issues of our time, world hunger, and they’re doing it in a thoughtful and collaborative way. This coming weekend, 20,000 volunteers (many of whom are students!) will pack 4 million meals for one of the largest Feed My Starving Children (FMSC) MobilePack events in US history, which will provide enough meals to feed 11,000 kids for a year!
In and around Woodbury, Minnesota, local government agencies, schools, students, non-profits, faith, civic, sports, and arts associations are uniting around a common cause called Woodbury Feeds. The primary goal is to provide food for the hungry both locally and globally.
This event is a great example of how communities can connect kids and citizens to broader causes. In doing so, we help students reach broader goals. There appears to be growing consensus around the notion that in addition to students meeting content standards, we want to help connect them to what they care about and build skills and dispositions around global awareness, project management, empathy, and more.
For example, non-profit organizations like YouthBuild USA are using comprehensive approaches to combine innovative education opportunities with national service — generating 9.2 million hours of service since 1994.
Mayor Mary Giuliani Stephens said, “I am excited to participate in this unique FMSC event to feed the hungry abroad and right here at home. The community can connect and help make a difference in the lives of others.”
Here are a 10 features that makes this event unique and worthy of replication:
- Feed My Starving Children (FMSC) Organization. FMSC is a nonprofit hunger relief organization dedicated to feeding starving children around the world. Based in Minnesota, FMSC also has packing locations in Illinois and Arizona, as well as a warehouse in Georgia. Additionally, meal packing events (MobilePack events) will take place in 35 states across the country this year (as well as the District of Columbia and Ontario, Canada) and are sponsored by groups ranging from large corporations like FedEx to small local churches or community groups.
- FMSC Process. Children and adults hand-pack meals specifically formulated for malnourished children. The meals are then shipped overseas. There’s something for everyone to do in the small group assembly lines that form. FMSC has its own signature chant, “Vitamins-Veggies-Soy-Rice” to ensure volunteers understand their role and the packing process, which often includes friendly competitions amongst teams. Meals are then boxed up and shipped to 70 countries around the world, including Haiti, the Phillippines, Nicaragua, and Liberia.
- Global Impact. Each day, at least 842 million people do not have enough to eat. Each day, 6,200 children die from malnutrition. FMSC seeks to change this trajectory and, while doing so, rallies many around its cause, using strategies to reach increasingly more people in need with the development of new tools.
- Local Impact. Understanding there is food insecurity at home, FMSC CEO and Executive Director Mark Crea has agreed to take a new approach with the Woodbury event, where 10% of the money raised will benefit the local food shelf (CCEFS), thereby helping provide nourishment for thousands of area families and students.
- School Collaboration. Several school groups will help fill the 20,000 volunteer slots. Whether an elementary classroom or a theatre group, a big part of the fun is getting students and teachers to come together and make a difference. South Washington County School’s Community Education program is a big part of the process and Director Bob Lawrence is on the steering committee.
- Volunteers (including Students). Whether coordinating the volunteers who are packing the 4 million meals or raising the almost $1M dollars needed to pay for the supplies, volunteers are a key part of the process. Woodbury High School students Niti and Riti Gupta said, “What better way to give back than with an incredible community at your side? Having the opportunity to touch the lives of kids around the world from our own backyard is beyond words.”
- Learning Impact. In order to learn, students need to be fed. Hunger can be life threatening – and even when not, causes severe stress for students, distracting them from learning as described in Tom Vander Ark’s recent blog about student focus and motivation.
- Community Leadership. Mayor Giuliani Stephens says a big part of the event’s effectiveness is that it’s run by local volunteers, with a committee co-chaired by Lisa Engh and Nikki Robbins. In addition to recruiting volunteers, this group has been raising money for the food that will be packed.
- Record Setting. Yes, there’s a secondary goal of making it into the Guinness Book of World Records for the largest food packing event: 4 million meals, the horsepower of 20,000 volunteers and enough food to feed 11,000 kids for a year.
- Friendly Rivalry. It just so happens the event takes place the same week as the high school football city rivalry game between East Ridge High School and Woodbury High School. Before putting on helmets on Friday, players will put on hair nets on Thursday as both teams come together to pack meals.
And, of course, it’s fun! Our family has volunteered with FMSC for many years now. It’s so much fun that one of our boys chose to do an FMSC event for his birthday party.
Simply stated, service projects like this provide great opportunities for kids to connect their head, heart and hands to make a difference. Imagine what can happen when all kids find something they care about and use their skills to create positive change.
In the end, don’t we all want to connect to something bigger than ourselves?
For more blogs by Mary, check out:
- Technology Will Save Us is Powering MakerEd in UK
- 12 Reasons All Kids Should Try a Triathlon
- For the School Supply List: 25 Ways to Promote Effort, Attitude and Respect
Stay in-the-know with all things EdTech and innovations in learning by signing up to receive the weekly Smart Update.