By Kayla Rinker
O’FALLON – Sweltering inside a non-air conditioned warehouse in O’Fallon, the people of First Baptist Church here worked hard to attain their goal of putting together 100,000 hand-packed meals.
“We knew how many meals we needed going into that last shift,” said Ron Lomax, associate pastor of missions and evangelism for First O’Fallon and organizer of the church’s recent Feed My Starving Children (FMSC) MobilePack event. “They put groups in competition with each other to push them harder and it worked. Our people filled 102,600 meals in two days.”
FMSC is a non-profit Christian organization based out of Minnesota that is committed to feeding children who are hungry both physically and spiritually. The association’s MobilePack events allow partnering churches like First O’Fallon to set up temporary food-packing sites.
“We say our mission is two-fold,” said Christine Hallenbeck, marketing associate for FMSC. “First, our food is a tangible form of nourishment for children who really need it. And second, we bring a valuable spiritual experience to our volunteers. Many people aren’t able to go far to do mission work but they can do this. They can come to a packing site like we had in O’Fallon and make a huge impact halfway around the world.”
O’Fallon’s partnership event, which took place June 25-26, welcomed 559 volunteers ages 8 to 88 during its seven food-packing shifts. Lomax said each shift required between 70 and 90 people to stay on the right pace to make the 100,000-meal goal. Though the church is large (it averages more than 800 people on Sunday mornings), Lomax thought it best to announce their volunteer efforts and ask for help from nearby churches.
“We visited different churches in O’Fallon and told them about our event,” he said. “We also contacted our own Twin Rivers Baptist Association and when it was all said and done, volunteers from 14 different churches participated.”
Lomax said another great part of working with FMSC is that volunteers were told exactly where the meals they packed would be going.
“They were able to tell us the food we were putting together is going to Haiti food relief,” he said. “Though it’s been months since the earthquake, the need will be there for a long time.”
Each meal First O’Fallon packed for Feed My Starving Children costs 17 cents to produce. (The rate recently increased to 19 cents because of the escalating price of food). That means, for the church to pack 100,000 meals they needed to raise $17,000.
“We raised it all through people generously giving and through fundraising,” Lomax said. “We had a trivia night to raise funds and a golf tournament. Also, this year’s VBS (Vacation Bible School) offering went toward the meals.”
Overall, Lomax said this mission project and partnership with FMSC was a huge success. He said whole families that volunteered had a great time serving together, despite the intense heat.
“They came in and they worked hard and sweated together, and when they went out they knew they had done something great,” he said. “It was a perfect hands-on mission project that everyone could take part in.”
For more information about already scheduled MobilePack events or how to partner with Feed My Starving Children, visit their website at www.fmsc.org.