This weekend’s Feed My Starving Children event aims to feed 4 million

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Bielenberg Sports Center is going to be a pretty busy place this weekend, but that’s not necessarily due to any sporting event. 
Instead, about 20,000 volunteers will be trying to produce 4 million meals for the hungry children of the world through the Feed My Starving Children program. And they’ll be doing it for four days — Oct. 8-11.
Producing 4 million meals is a pretty hefty task, but with about 1,200 volunteers on every shift, organizer Lisa Engh thinks it is not only possible but also probable.
Feed My Starving Children is a nonprofit organization that provides meals in “MannaPacks” to malnourished children in dozens of impoverished countries around the globe. The MannaPacks are potato- and rice-based meals that contain vitamins and dehydrated vegetables. Each pack contains the equivalent of about six meals. All that is needed is clean, healthy water to hydrate the meals and feed the hungry. 
Locally, Engh said, Feed My Starving Children has permanent packing sites in Chanhassen, Coon Rapids and Eagan, and many organizations go to those sites to pack meals for community service projects. However, the organization also has what is called a MobilePack event, where meals are made off-site, and then shipped to the permanent sites for distribution.
Woodbury is hosting what may well be the largest MobilePack event in Minnesota, and maybe even in FMSC’s history. 
“It will be the largest Feed My Starving Children mobilepack they’ve ever done,” Engh said. “That’s exciting.”
Typically, each volunteer who is packing a MannaPack bag will produce about $50 worth of meals in one shift — or, more specifically, about 216 meals in one shift. Not every volunteer on every shift will be making the meal packs, though. Some will be helping to case and store the meals, or refill supplies. Still, that means more than 200,000 MannaPacks will be produced for every shift. 
Each shift is about two hours. The shifts will start with a welcome by Woodbury Mayor Mary Giuliani Stephens, which is followed by a short training video. Then, the volunteers will take to their stations, and spend the next hour or more packing meals. Before they leave, volunteers will see one more video about the Feed My Starving Children program, and the impact those meals make around the world.
“It’s kind of a way to connect what we’re doing when we pack the meals and where (the meals) are going. It’s very impactful,” Engh said. “Four million meals will feed 11,000 children for one year.”
While Feed My Starving Children does not tell groups where the meals are going, the organization does have a plan in place to deliver the meals where needed. The group also serves to provide meals in areas where there is a need for emergency relief, Engh said.
Coming together
Part of what excites Engh is the prospect of bringing Woodbury residents to one place, and having them all work together. 
“It’s just fun to be shoulder to shoulder in the community,” she said. “What’s so beautiful about this will be the cross section of volunteers. It’s been sports teams, Bible studies groups, neighborhoods, families, extended families. It’s just this eclectic mix of people.”
Almost 20 different church groups have registered to participate. The congregations collectively have also raised more than $300,000 for Feed My Starving Children. 
And while church congregations do not really have “rivals,” football teams do. And that will be fun to see, Engh said. For the very first shift Thursday, the East Ridge and Woodbury high school football teams will come together to make MannaPacks. The cooperative event is happening just one day before the two teams play against each other Friday night. 
The teams are also helping to raise money for Feed My Starving Children, Engh said. The schools will be taking donations for the organization during the game. 
A few of the elementary schools are also doing activities in the schools, to raise funds for the program. 
Prayers for success 
Though packing of the MannaPacks does not start until Thursday, Woodbury’s Feed My Starving Children event will begin Wednesday night, with a 4 p.m. prayer walk at Bielenberg Sports Center. The event is free and open to the public.
All of the tables will be set up in the field house. The group will pray over the stations, over the rice and over the volunteers, Engh said. The executive director of Feed My Starving Children, Mark Crea, will be in Woodbury for the prayer walk.
Volunteer slots are still open. Anyone interested in volunteering can visit, fmsc.org/volunteer, then click on the Minnesota tab under the “Pack at a MobilePack Event.” Woodbury’s event is listed under Minnesota’s upcoming events.