On the road — Adams helps feed the hungry

Published 6:50 am Wednesday, March 17, 2010

ADAMS — People in the Adams area are doing their best to help alleviate the hunger in Haiti by raising enough money to donate at least 40,000 meals to the earthquake-stricken country.

“The neat thing about Kids Against Hunger is you package the food; you decide where it goes,” said Jan Weness, Southland Kids Against Hunger chairwoman.

After a 7.0 earthquake hit Haiti Jan. 16, Weness said the country, which struggled with poverty before the earthquake, seemed like the perfect place to send the food this year.

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The goal is to raise $10,000 — enough for about 40,000 meals. But committee chairwoman Jan Weness is hoping they can surpass that goal.

In the second year of the Kids Against Hunger program in the Adams area, organizers are looking to expand the program to the entire Southland community.

The program started last year at Little Cedar Lutheran Church in Adams, where the congregation raised money for Kids Against Hunger as part of the church’s 150th anniversary.

When they packaged food in April, they opened the event up to people in the community.

“They were real excited about it,” she said. “It was a real positive.”

The food went to American Indian reservations last year.

The 2010 Kids Against Hunger drive started in early February. Weness tried to get one representative from seven churches in the Southland School District to participate in the Kids Again Hunger Committee. The seven churches have a history of working together, because the congregations often support the Southland Faith Community Food Shelf.

So far, Weness said they’ve raised about half the funds, but the committee members are hoping they can surpass the goal of $10,000.

The drive isn’t limited to the churches, though, as Weness said she’s seeking involvement from area groups like the 4-H, Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts. Weness has also reached out to student council groups in the Southland school and at Sacred Heart School.

“We’re just trying to get the whole community excited about raising funds to package meals for people in Haiti,” Weness said.

While it’s challenging to work with more people, Weness said the organizers felt they should include the entire community to meet the goal of $10,000. She said it would be difficult for just Little Cedar Lutheran Church to raise the money each year.

“It will be a community event,” she said.

About two weeks ago, Russell and Karen Anderson, along with their children and grandchildren, hosted a turkey dinner for the community. The family donated all the food, and all the proceeds went to Kids Against Hunger. They raised just less than $2,500.

Rather than the committee coming up with all of the ideas, Weness said they hope other area organizations host similar events to raise money for Kids Against Hunger.

“We hope that this will be the seed for other people to come up with ideas,” she said.

The American Legion has already donated money, and other groups have expressed interest. Phillip Qualey at Adams Drug donated 100 pill bottles that can be filled with up to 10 quarters.

These bottles were passed out to Sunday school students, and they encouraged them to fill them with loose change and then donate them. Each meal costs about a quarter, but Weness said they’d be happy if the children filled the bottles with any coins.

The committee is also selling paper hearts for $5 that say a donation has been given in your honor to Kids Against Hunger. There are also Kids Against Hunger change cans posted at area businesses.

Kids Against Hunger is a non-profit organization founded by businessman Richard Proudfit.

The food is a nutrition dried mix of rice, vegetables and broth. The food is then cooked in boiling water. One bag equals about six meals.

Weness is excited for the drive this year, because she said people are more familiar with how the process works after last year.

“I think what’s really fun this year is the fact that people are so willing to give because of the positive experience from last year. They’re familiar with it,” she said.

They have to raise $10,000 to get the food delivered from Mankato. After the fundraising is complete, area residents will volunteer to package the food on Sept. 29 in an assembly line of about seven people per line who mix different types of food in a bag, then they weigh and seal the bag.

About 150 people volunteered during three two-hour shifts last year.

“It’s a hands-on event, and that’s what’s appealing,” she said. “… This way you’re actually involved so you feel like, ‘I am doing something for someone who’s hungry.'”

The food will the be shipped to Haiti. Weness said they’re trying to emphasize that not only do Haitians have a need for food now, but they’re going to continue to need food in the future.

Weness said the Kids Against Hunger will continue in the Southland area, but she said it may be every few years rather than yearly.

“I really think we could do it at least semi-annually, I really do,” Weness said. “We have such a giving, caring community. They respond so generously.”