Feeding starving kids around the world
They have a rather ambitious goal. They want to eliminate starvation everywhere in the world.
And, they plan on using the former Pioneer Bank building in Elmore to help achieve that goal.
The organization known as Jesus Food officially took over ownership of the bank building last week. It had been given to them as a gift from the Pioneer Bank organization after the Elmore branch was closed the end of June.
“It is wonderful that we have a facility like this,” says Jesus Food president Tim Stromer. “We will use it to store food and to have a location for our volunteers to come and do food packs.”
In fact, this Elmore location is just the third site that Jesus Food will actually own anywhere in the U.S. The other two are in the city of Faribault and in Cherry Valley, Calif.
“We do mobile packs across the U.S., anywhere we can,” Stromer says. “We bring the food and packing items into a church, school, hall, any place where our volunteers can work.”
Jesus Food is a Christian, non-denominational, non-profit organization whose primary purpose is to provide fully nutritious food to impoverished children around the world and give them the opportunity to learn about the saving gospel of Jesus Christ.
If this sounds similar to the organization called “Kids Against Hunger” or “Feed My Starving Children,” there is a reason for that.
All of these groups were founded by a man named Richard Proudfit.
“Richard is an amazing man,” Stromer says. “He first heard a voice telling him “Feed my starving children,” in 1974. Then in 1981 a bolt of lightning came through his bedroom window and he heard the same message again.”
Proudfit, who had only been an occasional church-goer and not very religious, committed his life to Christ and started to serve the starving people of the world, Stromer says.
It was 10 years ago that Stromer met Proudfit and became the director of Kids Against Hunger and started the Mankato site for that organization.
One night while sleeping, Stromer says he was awakened by a huge crash of thunder and he heard the Lord say, “You will be involved in a ministry that reaches farther, farther, farther and farther.”
Stromer says the word “farther” came each time with a clap of thunder as the thunder continued to roll. That was a bit ominous, he says, since he and his family live in the town of Good Thunder.
“I believe this (Jesus Food) is that ministry the Lord was telling me to do,” Stromer says. “I have been involved with Jesus Food for the past two years after I left Kids Against Hunger.”
That is right there is no longer a Kids Against Hunger branch in Mankato. It has been ‘replaced’ by Jesus Food.
So far, Jesus Food and the process Proudfit created, has fed over a billion people. But their goal remains to feed a billion people each day and eliminate starvation completely.
So, how do they plan to do that? How do they feed a billion starving people around the globe?
“When organizations like this started, they went with cheap and free food items, not quality,” Stromer explains. “It didn’t work, and even made kids sick sometimes.”
What Jesus Food does is package a highly nutritious soy and rice hot dish fortified with vitamins and minerals and with seven vegetables and vegetarian chicken flavoring. The food was designed by leading world food scientists from places such as Cargill, General Mills, Pillsbury and ADM, Stromer explains.
Everything is packed dry and then needs to be cooked in boiling water.
“Rice is an accepted food item everywhere in the world,” Stromer says. “Each bag we pack will provide six servings, takes only 20 minutes to prepare and we can create each package at a cost of just 23 cents each.”
He adds that means they can feed a starving kid for a whole year for just $84. And their goal is to feed two million kids a year.
Stromer is looking for volunteers to help with both the packing of the food and donating to the cost of the food.
“We like groups to come in and help pack, but also to donate to cover the cost of the food they are packing that day,” Stromer says. “Groups can do it at their site or now they can come to Elmore and pack right at our new site.”
The only thing a group has to provide at a mobile site is two 8-foot banquet tables Jesus Food provides the rest, Stromer says. And have 10 volunteers.
When a large number of packs are ready to go, Stromer says shipping them around the world is not really a problem.
“We have set up a distribution system that really works,” he says. “We ship 21 pallets of boxes of food packs at a time, and in 10 years we have never had an issue.”
Those 21 pallets of food represent a cost of $60,000 and can replace other types of food items that could cost as much as $300,000.
Now all Stromer needs are volunteers to come to Elmore and help with the food packing.
“We are having a grand opening during Elmore’s Horse and Buggy Day, on July 18,” Stromer says. “It will be a good time for people to stop in, see what packing the food is all about, and learn more about our organization.”
The hours are 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the former Pioneer Bank building at 109 Willis Street.
“Of course, if anyone wishes to make a donation, we would be only too happy to accept it,” Stromer says. “We use it to feed God’s starving children.”
The Jesus Food organization received the bank building as a gift. Stromer says that came about when he was serving on a non-profit board in Mankato with one of the executives of Pioneer Bank.
“He liked what we were doing and asked if we needed a building to do it in,” Stromer says. “But at first he could not say where the building was. So I said yes without knowing where it was.”
The goal is to have weekly packs at the Elmore site, Stromer says. But he admits that if the cost of maintaining the bank building becomes too great, another plan would be to sell the building and use the proceeds to buy more food to pack.
“Either way, we are going to use this gift (of the bank building) as a means to our goal, of feeding the starving children of the world,” Stromer says.