Join The Pack 2018: Corporate and Community Groups to Pack 150,000 Meals for Guatemala

COCONUT CREEK, Fla. (April 3, 2018) If MannaPack rice meals have a secret ingredient, it is "love," says one of the volunteers who has helped pack the meals.

It is because of that love that Donna Cleveland is excited about returning to action at Food For The Poor's third Join The Pack event April 20 and 21 at Advent Lutheran Church in Boca Raton.

This year, businesses, churches and community groups will assemble 150,000 specially formulated MannaPack rice meals for starving children in Guatemala, according to calculations from longtime partner Feed My Starving Children. The organization is teaming up with Food For The Poor to host the event.

Cleveland is determined to lead one of the top fundraising teams, which includes many members of Christ Church United Methodist in Fort Lauderdale.

"I experienced that secret ingredient of love with each person I served alongside," Cleveland said, describing her experience participating in the first two Join The Pack events. "Even before the official announcement for this year's event was made, I received phone calls from previous team members to remind me to let them know about it."

In addition to packing meals, volunteers also will raise enough money to send an additional 3 million meals to families in Latin American and Caribbean countries served by Food For The Poor.

Feed My Starving Children and Food For The Poor joined forces for the first time in 2008. That partnership added up to 54 million meals a year in 2017.

Guatemala suffers from one of the worst rates of chronic malnutrition in the world. At a young age, it can lead to stunting, a condition that affects both physical growth and brain development, according to the U.S. Agency for International Development. The most vulnerable are the Mayan communities who live in the highlands, where stunting affects almost 70 percent of children younger than 5.

Packing sessions will be from to 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. Friday, April 20, and from 9 to 11 a.m. and noon to 2 p.m. Saturday, April 21. Individual volunteers can join an existing team or create their own team to raise funds to purchase the dehydrated foods used to complete the meal packs. Each team will consist of at least 10 volunteers committed to raising a total of $500.

At last year's Join The Pack, more than 500 volunteers packed 124,416 lifesaving meals to feed 340 starving children in Haiti three times a day every day for a year. Enough money was raised by generous donors to provide an additional 2.7 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. For children in danger of starvation, these meals are like manna from heaven.

Volunteers work in assembly lines to 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.

"People always are looking for meaningful ways they can get involved with Food For The Poor, and this is a wonderful opportunity to do something on a large scale with local volunteers," said Food For The Poor Executive Director Angel Aloma.

DaVita Healthcare, which had one of the top two fundraising teams in Join The Pack's first event, 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.

Bravo Supermarkets, which also participated in last year's event, is returning with a team and as a presenting sponsor. Bravo Supermarkets is an independent neighborhood grocer with more than 70 stores from New York to Florida.

Other sponsors include Hormel Foods, Wells Fargo Bank, Jersey Mike's, Granite Telecommunications, Sonitrol of Fort Lauderdale, Florida Aquastore, Advent School, Wizard Creations and Goya Foods.

Other corporate and community groups fielding teams include US Foods, RNNetwork, LexisNexis, Gordon & Donor, All County Paving, The LESS Institute, Barry School of Social Work, Knights of Columbus, Kforce, Nova Singers, Hammock Street Church and Food For The Poor's Directors and Voices Of The Poor Choir.

For more information on Join The Pack, including sponsorship opportunities, please call Cassandra Celestin at 954-427-2222, ext. 4020. Or, to register for the event, visit www.FoodForThePoor.org/jointhepack.

Follow this link to watch how the meals like those packed by Join The Pack volunteers helped a malnourished, underweight child from Guatemala come to normal weight: www.FoodForThePoor.com/jointhepack2018

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. For more information, please visit www.FoodForThePoor.org.

Michael Turnbell

Public Relations
954-427-2222 x 6054
michaelt@foodforthepoor.com