On April 20, Feed My Starving Children, a nonprofit organization that delivers hand-packed meals to hungry children around the world, will begin raising money in hopes of opening a new permanent packing site in Lake County.
The organization relies on volunteers to package the easily transportable, simple, nutritional meals at mobile packing events or permanent packing sites. Two Illinois sites already exist, in Aurora and Schaumburg.
“We’re counting on great things from the Chicagoland area,” says Feed My Starving Children representative Mandi Cherico. “We have so much support. There’s so many people that there is actually a waiting list for volunteers to pack food. We expect it to be a really big success in the area.”
Illinois already has produced 77 million meals for Feed My Starving Children from both the permanent packing sites and mobile packing events.
Holy Cross Lutheran Church in Libertyville began hosting mobile packing events four years ago, first at a recycling facility in northeastern Lake County, and then at the Lake County Fairgrounds. The event, taking place the first weekend of each December, collectively has packed 3.3 million meals.
“I think we got Feed My Starving Children’s attention,” says the Rev. Robert Davis, of Holy Cross. “They recognize that there’s a lot of support and a lot of good folks here in Lake County that like to do things like this.”
Davis says that the first year, 1,500 volunteers came together and worked to pack 300,000 meals in one weekend. All told, 16,000 volunteers have signed up for the mobile packing event throughout the four years.
“The sad reality is we’ve had to turn people away,” Davis explains. “This past year, we signed up over 4,000 people in 10 hours.”
According to Davis, the mobile event has drawn support from faith groups, Rotary Clubs, Exchange Clubs, parochial and private schools, public school clubs, sports clubs, Scout groups, and private businesses. The permanent packing site will provide year-long opportunities for these groups to participate in meal packing.
“So, if a Little League team wants to go volunteer as a group at the end of the season, they can do it, or if the Girl Scouts want to do it in May as a Mother’s Day event, they can do it,” Davis explains. “People will only be limited by their imaginations.”
Feed My Starving Children holds its annual gala on April 20 in Rosemont, and Cherico says all of the funds from the event will go toward the expansion effort. Feed My Starving Children expects the campaign to last a year to raise the $1.55 million needed to purchase an existing facility and perform build-out construction. The facility would house a warehouse to load meals, educational areas to instruct volunteers, and FDA-approved packing areas. Cherico says the new Feed My Starving Children site will be in Lake County, but the organization specifically is eyeing sites in Libertyville and Mundelein. The effort includes plans to expand the Schaumburg site.
“We could raise the money sooner; we could wait a little bit longer. It all depends on how much our volunteers and donors step up,” Cherico says. “So honestly, we’re relying on our biggest fans to come through.”
Registration for the gala event at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center as well as more information about the organization can be found online at www.fmsc.org.