Volunteers Pack Nearly 125,000 Meals to Help Children in Haiti

COCONUT CREEK, Fla. (May 4, 2017)  More than 500 volunteers from businesses, churches and community organizations in South Florida donated precious time in their busy lives last week to feed hungry children in Haiti. As a result, 340 starving children in Haiti will receive food every day for a year from Food For The Poor.

Adults and children packed 124,416 lifesaving meals during the charity's second Join The Pack mobile food packing event Friday and Saturday at Advent Lutheran Church in Boca Raton.

The event was in partnership with Feed My Starving Children, a Christian nonprofit organization that sends prepackaged meals to more than 70 countries.

Enough money was raised by generous donors to provide an additional 2.7 million meals that will go to needy families in countries served by Food For The Poor in Latin America and the Caribbean.

The situation is especially dire in Haiti. Since Hurricane Matthew hit in October, much of the country's livestock, crops and plantings for next year has been wiped out, leaving as many as 400,000 in the Grand'Anse region of southwest Haiti facing a severe food shortage.

Bravo Supermarkets, an independent neighborhood grocer with 17 locations in South Florida, brought more than 30 employees to pack meals.

"We feel so blessed by God that we want to share our blessings with the most needy," said Eliza Diaz, co-owner of Bravo Supermarkets, which has more than 70 stores from New York to Florida. "We're not going to end world hunger but every little grain of sand is something for the Lord."

Wearing hairnets and circled around tables that functioned as assembly lines, volunteers watched a film about the children they would be helping. During each two-hour session, music playing over loud speakers kept the volunteers moving as busy hands mixed, packaged and loaded individual meals with cups of white rice and soy pellets, scoops of freeze-dried vegetables and vitamins that provide critical nutrition for malnourished children. Cheers erupted after every box was filled.

"Everyone had a great time. I think that being with brothers and sisters in Christ, working toward a common goal, being the church body, provides an opportunity for our spiritual cup to be filled to overflowing," said Thomas Abblett of Hammock Street Church in Boca Raton, which brought nearly 100 volunteers to pack meals. "How could you not be happy and enjoy that experience."

Join The Pack was presented by DaVita Healthcare, a large healthcare organization that provides dialysis to kidney patients throughout the country. DaVita also had two packing teams.

"DaVita means give life. It's in the DNA of our team to give life. It's also in our DNA to help children because no child should have to go without food," said Bob Winston, New Business Development Manager for DaVita.

For the second year in a row, Advent Lutheran Church hosted Join The Pack. The relationship between Food For The Poor and the Advent Lutheran congregation goes back many years. The church was a founding member of a Lutheran mission effort in Haiti called the Lazarus Project, which Food For The Poor has helped support.

Andy Hagen, pastor of Advent Lutheran Church, said events like Join The Pack give people the chance to share the abundance God has given them with destitute families.

"We know there are going to be hungry kids going to bed tonight all over the world. By the end of today there will be 100,000 less hungry people because of what you've done," Hagen said to volunteers during one of the Saturday packing sessions.

Feed My Starving Children and Food For The Poor teamed up for the first time in 2009. That partnership added up to almost 83 million meals a year in 2016.

"Our goal is to eradicate world hunger. But when we work with groups like Food For The Poor and other mission partners around the world we're able to do this one mobile pack at a time," said Janae Stansbury, Senior Event Supervisor of Mobile Packs for Feed My Starving Children.

Food For The Poor Executive Director Angel Aloma thanked volunteers and sponsors for the loving service provided to the destitute in Haiti through the charity and Feed My Starving Children.

"You are saving the lives of children who would die for no other cause, but simply because they don't have enough food to eat," Aloma said.

Once prepared with boiling water, each MannaPack provides six generous servings of nutritious food. The easy-to-make, easy-to-transport meals are an answer to countless prayers. For children in danger of starvation, these meals are like manna from heaven.

Sponsors for Join The Pack include: DaVita Healthcare, Bravo Supermarkets, Payments For Change, Hormel Foods, Granite Telecommunications, Wells Fargo Bank, Hope Gel®, Advent School, VITAS Healthcare, Sonitrol of Fort Lauderdale, Goya Foods, Sparkle of Life and Tijuana Flats.

Other participating company teams include: RN Network, Gordon & Doner, the LESS Institute, Kohl's Department Stores and Miss Jamaica Florida.

Food For The Poor, one of the largest international relief and development organizations in the nation, does much more than feed millions of the hungry poor primarily in 17 countries of the Caribbean and Latin America. This interdenominational Christian ministry provides emergency relief assistance, clean water, medicines, educational materials, homes, support for orphans and the aged, skills training and micro-enterprise development assistance. Over the last 10 years, fundraising and other administrative costs averaged less than 5% of our expenses; more than 95% of all donations went directly to programs that help the poor. For more information, please visit www.FoodForThePoor.org.

Michael Turnbell

Public Relations
954-427-2222 x 6054