Volunteers Packing 125,000 Meals to Help Starving Families in Haiti: Boca Raton Church Hosts Join The Pack Event for Second Year

COCONUT CREEK, Fla. (April 20, 2017)  Nearly 500 volunteers have committed to joining Food For The Poor this month to pack 125,000 lifesaving meals for hungry children in Haiti. Even more businesses, church groups and individuals are expected to build on that momentum and participate in Join The Pack, a mobile food-packing event.

This hands-on event will be Friday, April 28, and Saturday, April 29, at Advent Lutheran Church in Boca Raton, in partnership with Feed My Starving Children, a Christian nonprofit organization that sends prepackaged meals to more than 70 countries.

With roots that go back more than 50 years in Boca Raton, Advent Lutheran Church has played an important role in being of service to those in need, and hosting Join The Pack is just the latest example of fulfilling that mission.

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.

Advent Pastor Andy Hagen said it's easy for people to get caught up in their own needs and wants. Join the Pack, he said, reminds everyone that the true joy comes from helping others.

"Our church members have lent a hand financially to Food For The Poor for many years. By 'joining the pack' we were able to lend a literal hand to provide food for the poor. Both are needed, but wearing hairnets was a lot more fun," Hagen said.

During the two-day event, the church's gymnasium will be transformed into a giant assembly line with a fun, high energy environment. Volunteers donning hairnets and gloves will fill plastic bags with cups of white rice and soy pellets, scoops of freeze-dried vegetables and chicken flavoring that contains all the essential vitamins and nutrients a malnourished child needs to survive. Once prepared with boiling water, each MannaPack provides six generous servings of nutritious food.

DaVita Healthcare, which had one of the top two fundraising teams last year, will participate in this year's event and is a presenting sponsor. DaVita is a large healthcare organization that provides dialysis to kidney patients throughout the country.

Hope Gel®, an important Food For The Poor partner, is one of Join The Pack's sponsors.

"Hope Gel® is proud to be working with Food For The Poor and be a part of the Join The Pack event," said Nathan Feldman, Daniel Schapiro and Jeffrey Miller, Hope Gel® co-founders, through a joint statement.

"Since we began working with Food For The Poor, we have distributed tens of thousands of Hope Gel® nutrition packets to fight malnutrition in Haitian children. We share a mutual passion to help those in need. Hope Gels provide vital nutrients and as importantly, provide hope," the Hope Gel® co-founders said.

At the inaugural Join The Pack last year, more than 500 volunteers participated, packing 101,088 lifesaving meals to feed nearly 300 starving children in Haiti three times a day every day for a year. Enough money was raised by generous donors to provide an additional 1.9 million meals that were sent to needy families in countries served by Food For The Poor.

The easy-to-make, easy-to-transport meals put together by Join The Pack volunteers are an answer to countless prayers. These meals, stacked in sealed plastic bags in cardboard boxes, are labeled "MannaPack," after the Biblical food that fell from heaven.

"When they receive food like this, mothers will be so happy to see their children get to a normal size and weight for their age. They will be able to go to bed at night thanking God instead of crying and praying to God to let their children see the light of day," said Angel Aloma, Food For The Poor's Executive Director.

Participants can join the event by registering and raising funds to purchase the dehydrated foods used to complete the meal packs.

Packing sessions will be from to 2 to 4 p.m. Friday, April 28, and from 9 to 11 a.m. and noon to 2 p.m. Saturday, April 29. Due to increasing interest, an additional session has been scheduled for 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. on Saturday.

Sponsors 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 teams include Kohl's Department Stores, Gordon & Doner, LESS Institute, Parc500 Apartments, RnNetwork, Miss Jamaica Florida and Youth Power Movement. For more information on Join The Pack or sponsorship opportunities, please call Cassandra Celestin at 954-427-2222, ext. 4020. Or, to register for the event, visit www.FoodForThePoor.org/jointhepack.

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