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Thank you for Making Packathon 2016 a HUGE Success

Many thanks to the many hands who made Packathon 2016 so successful!  The final meal count was 369,576 meals!!!!  Wow!  That feeds 1,012 people every day for one year! Way to go! We couldn't have done it without you. Our new supply chain partner, Children of the Nations, is shipping this year's meals to Sierra Leone.  Look for an update in early February when the meals arrive in Africa.  Your efforts make a difference! 

We have a new name!

Same great mission...same great packing events... new name!  

Kids Against Hunger headquaters moved to a new location and can no longer support us the way they have in the past.  Their new agreement would mean changes that are not in our best interest.  After long discussions, we decided to part ways from Kids Against Hunger.  They understand our decision and both parties hope to continue to work together in the future as opportunities arise to help feed the hungry. 

In November 2015, we held a naming contest for our new name at our annual Pack-a-thon.  After sifting through hundreds of entries and sadly needing to pull out a number of great ones due to trademarks etc., we found our winner submitted by Noah from Excelsior Elementary.  Our new name is Many Hands Many Meals!  We feel this name reflects precisely upon what we do.  Every year, thousands of hands pass through our doors to pack hundreds of thousands of meals.  

We thank all who have volunteered over the years with us as Kids Against Hunger- West Metro and look forward to continuing our work together as Many Hands Many Meals.

Eagle Butte

Kids Against Hunger - West Metro helping the Eagle Butte, South Dakota community 

Eagle Butte is a small city with big city problems surrounded by vast open land on a reservation.  When you ask how many people live in Eagle Butte, no one really knows.  They guess somewhere around 2,000-3,000 people.

From what I saw, the main issues that Eagle Butte faces are poverty, diabetes, alcoholism, and meth.  The widespread use of alcohol and the rising use of meth have a ripple effect.  Children as young as fifth grade are joining gangs.  For many children alcohol and drug use is their norm.  Sadly, it hinders brain developement and in the case of meth, literally creates holes in your brain.  Many of these children who are born to alcoholic parents are already starting behind their peers in brain developement.  This makes education, one of the foundations of breaking the poverty cycle, an uphill battle.  

The drugs also cause parents to make poor decisions for their children.  While initially it is the person who 
chooses to use the drug, when addiction sets in, it is the power of the drug over that person that causes them to make unthinkable decisions such as feeding their habit verses their child.  Some of the unemployed who receive jobs, cannot hold them because they fail to show up to work due to their overconsumption.  There is also the issue of sexual assault brought on primarily through drug use.  

Diabetes is an issue that stems from poverty in this area.  Nutritious food is expensive.  Many homes have multiple families living in them and very little money to feed them all.  So they buy the most calories for their dollar.  Sadly, these calories are full of fat, sugar, and chemicals.  It curbs the hunger, but does not feed the body or the mind.  These high levels of fat and sugar bring on diabetes.

I realize my opening remarks make things sound rather bleak, but there are efforts being made to correct some of these issues.  There are 7-8 churches ministering to different issues.  The one who housed us for the evening is focused on educating children and keeping them from falling into drug use.  They currently work with the Windswept Academy.

The Windswept Academy opened 4 years ago.  They opened with 12 students and now they are at their capacity of 40 students and needing to turn students away.  They are praying for funds to open a larger facility so they can continue to add the additional students.  Bullying in the public schools was mentioned as the number one reason for families wanting their children to attend there.  

The staff there are committed not only to academics, but also the well being of the children.  They realize many of their children do not receive food at home.  Therefore, they provide both breakfast and lunch.  It is the necessary nutrition that allows their brains to learn.  

Two of the staff members even go above and beyond working with some of the alcoholic parents.  They encourage them to commit themselves to a rehab program and take temporary custody of their children while they do.  That way the child can continue to attend school while their parent is in rehab and causes less disruption in their lives. 

The KAH food from the Sophomore Service Project will be used to feed the children at the school once a week for a year.  This is a wonderful gift since a number of the families cannot afford the tuition which is suppose to pay for the food.

Food provided for the Eagle Butte, South Dakota community

In an area with the pressures of inner city gangs and drug use, I did come across and hear of some promising role models.  One I met when we toured the new Senior Citizen Center that is getting ready to open.  The woman giving the tour was clearly intelligent and professional.  I was so impressed by her I needed to ask her additional questions.  She is native to Eagle Butte, but chose to go off of the reservation to acquire additional schooling in New Mexico and California.  Now she is back using her education and talents to further her hometown.  She encourages her youngest daughter of eight to do the same and cites herself as an example that you can always return to the reservation.  When I asked her what prompted her to leave the reservation for New Mexico, she responded it was her dad.  He advised, "The government will not always provide for you.  You need to find a way to provide for yourself."   Wow! What a great role model she had and has become.

For those without a role model at home, there are some outside of the home.  In addition to the teachers I met at Windswept Academy, one woman has started a jr. marine corps club.  This is to help teach discipline and structure to children who do not receive it or develop these skills at home.  There is a native band, Broken Walls, who in addition to performing, talk to teenagers about the pitfalls of alcohol and drug use.  Clearly, the tribal council is also trying to address these issues.  While walking through the tribal council facility, there were a number of flyers deterring the use of meth.  

The food pantry works hard to provide nutritious food to the families who cannot afford it.  They currently have 800 families registered with them.  They do not deter someone if they do hold a job.  They do not want someone who cannot feed their family with their paycheck to feel they need to go back on welfare to get assistance.  

The facility itself is well organized and clean.  They recieve food from a few organizations in addition to KAH-WM.  Running Strong sends turkeys and meals around the holidays.  Hunters for the Hungry donate deer and pheasant meat.  National Relief Charities periodically send food.  They also purchase food from Feeding South Dakota at .18/pound.  I did note that their refrigerator for fresh food was for the most part empty.  Also, at least half of the shelving was stocked with the remainder of the KAH food from the pack-a-thon.  From a quick calculation, it appears they have given out approximately 75,000 meals since the pack-a-thon.  The meals are put in bags with other donated items and handed out. 

It was a trip of discovery for me.  I was pleased with the operation of the food pantry and touched by the efforts of the Windswept Academy.  The children I met were adorable and they thoroughly enjoyed the MHS students who helped tudor them for a morning.   Hopefully, these children will become future role models for the next generation.

Haiti

Taken from Children's Lifeline Blog- 9/22/2011
 
Lost in my own world, running errands in a Port-au-Prince market, I suddenly wake up to poverty smacking me in the face. She is a beautiful young girl who appears to be about fourteen and looks very lost. Sensing her panic and urgency I approach her to see if she is ok.
 
Upon asking what she is looking for, I am shocked to learn she is shopping for supplies for her four-year-old daughter. I later learn she is twenty-three, but nothing about her hints at her age. Her body is painfully skinny. I wonder how she stays alive with such a skeletal frame. The dark circles around her eyes reveal wounds of a troubled life and sadness seems to pour from her eyes. Years of poverty have taken its toll on this woman. As she speaks to me, I soon learn the four-year-old is not the only daughter she is concerned about. She also has another daughter who is only eight months old. This is when the real story begins to unfold. Her youngest daughter has terrible diarrhea. She is quite ill and the woman is unsure if her daughter will survive. They have no money to buy diapers or see a doctor. As she is wandering about in a state of sheer desperation, we know the Lord brought this woman to us. After talking a few more minutes, I tell her to come to Lifeline and we will help her. I can only pray she will come quickly.

The next day, after having walked more than an hour to the mission, I am thrilled to see her arrive. Unable to afford even the cheapest means of transportation, a tap-tap, blisters bulged on her feet from her walk towards hope. We joyfully provide her with medicine for her child, toys, formula, diapers, and other goodies. After blessing her with much needed supplies, we seek more information to insure the safety of her children and her. Asking questions about what kind of water she gives her two little girls, we learn she gives them any water she can find – even if it risks giving her children Cholera. She tells us she has no money for clean water, nor does she have money to buy charcoal to boil dirty water. She is a single mother with no income. After pressing her for more information, she shamefully admits she sometimes resorts to having sex for money. She does not like to do it, and only does it when she feels she has no other choice; but when her children are starving, she feels she has no other choice. Seeing the shame and sadness permeate throughout entire body, we know her story is true. It is a story told by many in this poverty stricken country.

Brought to tears from this woman’s sad story, we know we can offer her hope. We tell her she never has to resort to selling her body again. We explain to her that all she needs to do is trust in the saving power of Jesus and He will provide. Seeing the slightest hint of a sparkle in her dark lifeless eyes, we share the Gospel and invite her to continue to seek help from us and from the Lord. After providing her with money to get home by tap-tap and to buy food and for her and her girls, we ask her to bring her family back to Lifeline the next day. Promising to supply her with enough rice and beans to feed her family, the young woman leaves extremely grateful and ready for a new life. As we continue to pray for Jesus to enter her heart, our only desire is to see Christ work in her life and bring salvation to the Haitian people – one poverty-stricken life at a time.

KAH comes to the aid of the elderly

Source: Taken from Children's International Lifeline blog

For many elderly men and women in this area, life is very difficult. They aren’t able to live off of social security, there are no nursing homes, there are no soup kitchens, there are no homeless shelters, there is nothing for them when they are in need. The only hope that the elderly have is that their kids or grandchildren can help them receive food, housing and help them provide for their other needs. A sweet man came to us this morning with a wounded thumb. The man didn’t grimace in pain once as his wound was cleaned and bandaged, but the entire time the man was shaking. We could tell the man was very hungry. He asked us if we were able to help him with some food because he had a son to die recently and he himself wasn’t able to work. We could see that the man obviously was in no way able to provide for himself so he was left to the mercy of any kind soul who would help him. Praise the Lord that we have Kids Against Hunger food. We were able to bless the man with some food to sustain him for awhile. We gave him a rice sack and packed it up with the KAH food. We are so grateful to have been blessed with this food so we can in turn give it to those who are in need. While Lifeline’s main target is to help take care of the children, this valuable food also goes to helping feed the elderly such as this man, the widows, and the disabled. What a blessing it is to be able to extend a hand to someone in such great need.

KAH arrives by U.S. Naval Ship

Naval shipNaval shipNaval ship

taken from Children's International Lifeline Blog 9/27/10

Operation Handclasp and Kids Against Hunger

 

Today we are so grateful for the U.S. Navy’s humanitarian aid program called Operation Handclasp.

The HSV-2 SWIFT naval ship docked in Port-au-Prince today full of food and supplies for five different missions here in Haiti, including Children’s International Lifeline.

The food was provided by Kids Against Hunger out of Minnesota and Operation Handclasp arranged getting it all here. We arrived early, excited to be a part of such a great event. We traveled around Port at first making sure we had all the proper paperwork in line to get through customs. Once we had that all in line we waited until it was our turn to have our pallets unloaded off the ship. While we were waiting we were cordially invited aboard for a tour.

It was such a sight to see the 98 meter long ship. While on the tour, we found out the ship crew wasn’t only the Navy. It also included the Army, the Marines, the Air Force, and also civilian workers. We were also told that this deployment held the largest amount of help aid since the history of the HSV-2 SWIFT. What a blessing it was to join hands with the US Military to help provide food and help for the people of Haiti and to be a part of them making history for humanitarian aid.

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