Saving lives, 1 bag at a time - Ahwatukee Foothills News: Health

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Saving lives, 1 bag at a time

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Posted: Tuesday, November 13, 2007 12:00 am

Dennis and Janine Skinner were astonished when they had more people volunteer for Feed My Starving Children than they could cope with. "I had space for 770 people," Janine said. "People were thanking me for giving them something to volunteer for. We live in such a grateful community - I even have a waiting list for the next event." On Nov. 7, Dennis and Janine observed their first round of volunteers, working hard but having fun packaging chicken-flavored, vitamin-fortified meals at Esperanza Lutheran Church. Volunteers from the Minneapolis-based program were on hand to help if anything went wrong over the four-day event. "Dennis and I were on a middle school church retreat when they showed a video on Feed My Starving Children," Janine said. "We were so intrigued we started communicating with the CEO of the program and even flew our family to Minnesota to visit." For 20 years, Feed My Starving Children has been fine-tuning the perfect meal, consisting of enriched rice, vegetarian chicken flavoring, dehydrated mixed vegetables and textured soy protein, which will save the lives of starving children in over 50 countries with just one meal a day. Each bag the volunteers seal provides six meals and costs only 15 cents per meal. "Last year the company shipped 30 million meals," Janine said. "This year they will surpass that number by a long shot." Enough supplies to make 150,000 bags were sent from Minneapolis to Ahwatukee Foothills. The Skinners made a goal to complete all bags by Nov. 10. The bags will then be shipped back to the warehouse in Minneapolis until requested by Christian relief organizations overseas. "We serve about 50 countries, including Sudan, Haiti and Indonesia because they are the most in need," FMSC Minneapolis-based team leader George Mashek said. Before volunteers started packaging meals, Mashek showed a FMSC informational video to ensure they understand who they are helping. "In our country kids think everyone lives the way we do," Mashek said. "Then they watch the video and understand what they're actually doing." At each station four volunteers pour each ingredient through a funnel one at a time. The bag is then weighed by a fifth volunteer who ensures it's 390 grams before it's heat sealed by a sixth volunteer. Each serving contains 11 grams of protein, 41.5 grams of carbohydrates, one gram of fat and 275 calories. Most children receive only one serving a day. To volunteer for the next packaging event April 8-12, contact the Skinners at (480) 706-1381 or azskinners@cox.net. Corinne Frayer can be reached at (480) 898-7917 or cfrayer@aztrib.com.

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