Volunteers to pack 550,000 meals for starving kids during 4th annual Slammin Famine in Loveland

Feed My Starving Children to distribute food packs

LOVELAND, Colo. -- More than 3 million children starve to death every year, but that number is beginning to drop thanks to events like "Slammin' Famine."

Nearly 2,500 volunteers, many of them charter school students, are gathering at "The Ranch" in Loveland this weekend, to fills bags with nutritious food.

The bags are then boxed up and sent to the "Feed My Starving Children's" warehouse in Minnesota, and are then distributed to countries overseas.

"Last year, they went to Nicaragua, the Philippines and Haiti," said Brian Zonnefeld, of Rez Church, one of the Slammin' Famine organizers. "This year, they'll probably go to Haiti and some of the other areas devastated by the hurricanes in the Caribbean."

Volunteers like Marisol Sanchez, Serenity Reynolds and Teigen James, ages 13 and 14, donned hair nets, sanitized their hands, and began working in assembly-like fashion to fill the "MannaPacks" with a cup of rice, a cup of soy, a small scoop of dried veggies and a small scoop of powdered vitamins.

A fellow volunteer held the bag under a funnel, while the others took turns pouring their items into the bag.  Another volunteer weighed the bag, added or subtracting a little rice and two other volunteers sealed the bags shut.

"It's a serious job," Teigen said, "but you can have fun."

She and fellow crew members began swaying to the music, when the Village People's "Y.M.C.A." began blaring over the speakers.

"We're doing a competition to see who can pack the most boxes," she said, "and we do a little fun dance, when we get a full box." 

Maddy Cypert, of Feed My Starving Children, told Denver7 that recipients just add water to the Manna.

"It's as simple as boiling it," she said. "Some people will add just enough water to make it like an oatmeal consistency, others will make it more like a soup."

Faith Wickstrom, the daughter of a pastor at Heritage Christian Church, traveled to Myanmar to deliver some of the food a while back.

She was stunned by what she saw.

"They were just severely malnourished," she told Denver7. "They were a little hesitant of us, because they'd never met strangers who were nice them. They'd never met people who didn't want to hurt them." 

Wickstrom said she went back to Myanmar the following year.

"They were so much better," she said. "They gained weight. They were smiling and happy."

Cypert says the food deliveries aren't a one-time deal. They're intended to help get people back on their feet.

She said the folks at "Feed My Starving Children" believe that food is the foundation for all things.

"If a kid is undernourished, they cannot retain information at school," Cypert said. "They can't do much to contribute, or dream of what they want to be when they're older, so food really is the foundation."

Zonnefeld says the volunteers will be back at The Ranch Saturday and Sunday to finish the food packs.

"This is our fourth year," he said. "We'll pack around 550,000 meals."

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