When Sheri Johnson, a law professor at Cornell University, adopted two children, Christela and Danielle, from Haiti in the aftermath of January’s earthquake, she saw the devastating effects of malnutrition. Both of the children were shell-shocked and extremely skinny. Since then, Johnson has taken action to improve the global child hunger epidemic.
“My own motivation starts from the fact that other generous groups fed my children when they were in Haiti,” Johnson said, “I want to give back to some of the other children in the world.”
On Saturday and Sunday, volunteers from more than 15 local organizations will gather at Ithaca’s Trinity Lutheran Church on Honness Lane to pack an anticipated 150,000 meals and reach a goal of $25,500 in fundraising for Feed My Starving Children, a national Christian organization which has been packing meals for children in need since 1987.
The church is currently $1,500 away from its goal, and Pastor Robert Foote said he hopes to reach the goal with the help of the community by Sunday evening. The meals they pack will be sent off to about 70 countries with children in need.
Each meal costs about 19 cents to make. The meals, consisting mainly of rice and dehydrated vegetables, are placed in vacuum-packed bags and put into boxes. The meals are specifically engineered for children ages 2 to 14 years old and are supplemented with vitamins and minerals.
Joe Regenstein, a food science professor at Cornell University and member of the local organization Shared Journeys, said he hopes the event brings community members together.
“This is a very practical opportunity for Ithaca to do something to make a real, positive impact in some of the poorest countries in the world and help make the future better by feeding children,” Regenstein said.
Circle K, an organization at Ithaca College that provides students with the opportunity to engage in service projects, will also participate in the event. Senior Andrew Whitson, president of the group, said Circle K will send 30 volunteers to the event.
“It is amazing to be a part of something as big as Feed My Starving Children,” Whitson said. “Even though Circle K is only contributing 30 people for two hours it is great to see we are having a positive impact on the global community.”
Once all the meals are packed, the church will send them to Feed My Starving Children’s headquarters in Coon Rapids, Minn. From there, they will be sent to countries all over the world, including El Salvador, Haiti, Indonesia, Nicaragua, North Korea, the Philippines, Uganda and Zimbabwe, where the organization’s personnel are stationed.
“It is not just aid being dropped out of an airplane,” Regenstein said, “[The organization] is committed to making sure the groups are on the ground for extended periods of time to help create a healthier, better environment for these kids.”
While Johnson is participating in the event this week, Christela and Danielle will be starting preschool at Trinity Lutheran Church. Johnson said, they have changed a lot since coming to the United States earlier this year.
“They were traumatized,” Johnson said. “They not only had been through the earthquake, but [experienced] days when there wasn’t food in the orphanage. It is a miracle what a child can do with a chance.”