Sept. 10, 2013
'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.' - Matthew 25:40
By Jerry Hill
Baylor Bear Insider
Faced with mind-numbing statistics that report 870 million people in the world don't have enough to eat, or 6,200 children die of starvation every day, it's easy to throw up your hands and ask, "How can we even make a difference?"
But Baylor Athletics made a difference on Monday, packing 504 boxes with 108,864 meals through a Feed My Starving Children MobilePack event that attracted a total of 489 volunteers - coaches, student-athletes and staff - for three two-hour shifts at the Ferrell Center.
"This is one of the most anticipated and meaningful days of the year for Baylor Athletics to see how our student-athletes come together and do something not about themselves but about others," said Baylor Director of Athletics Ian McCaw. "It's a great team-building experience, a great opportunity to serve and to advance God's kingdom. And to see our student-athletes so excited and energized about giving back is a big thrill."
Corey Barrette, the MobilPack supervisor for FMSC, said the meals that were packed on Monday is enough to feed 298 children for a year. While the meals from last year's packing event were sent to Nicaragua, FMSC works with major global distribution nonprofits and imbedded missionaries such as Salesian Missions, Love A Child, Cross International, Samaritans International and World in Need to distribute the meals all around the world.
"That's close to 300 kids for an entire year," Barrette said. "Of course, that's up to the partners in terms of how they distribute the food. But as far as its scientific design is concerned, that's how much it would feed."
Working in assembly-line-like stations with 15-20 volunteers at each table, there were about 36,000 meals packed in each of the two-hour shifts. Food scientists from Cargill and General Mills developed a nutritional product especially designed to feed starving children that includes four main ingredients - rice, soy, vegetables and vitamins.
As each box is filled, the respective "teams" at each table would shout out cheers or yell for the "warehouse" workers to "Move that box!"
Barrette said as athletes, "it's in their blood to be competitive," even when they're packing meals for the hungry. "If we are at a point in an event where maybe we needed a little more production, there is no one we would rather have in the room than athletes that are just willing to push the envelope of production for us."
"I know the goal is to pack 100,000 meals, but our student-athletes are always looking to do one more," McCaw said. "I think that's one of the things the Feed My Starving Children staff have noticed is that when you put this project in the hands of competitive people, great things happen."
Callie Schrank, who heads up the Baylor project committee with Senior Associate Athletics Director Chad Jackson, said one of the soccer players was "just waiting for them to announce that our table won."
"They were doing cheers and chants and just really excited," Schrank said. "But it was also cool to see tables where there was a mix of athletes from different teams, because then they get to know each other and support each other."
As coaches "have gotten on board," Schrank said, all 19 varsity sports were represented and "that's why whole rosters are coming now, as opposed to "Hey, what's this about? I'm not really sure.' This year has been off-the-charts."
At the end of each packing session, the food was prayed over by the FMSC staff and the volunteers that packed the meals.
"Our sports ministry program is exploding, but not everybody is able to go on a mission trip to Kenya for two weeks in May," McCaw said. "So, this gives every student-athlete the opportunity to participate. And that's really what Baylor is all about. Our goal is to help our student-athletes reach their full potential athletically, academically, socially and spiritually - and this is an important component of what we do."
In addition to providing the volunteer workers and facility to pack the meals, Baylor Athletics also spent nearly $24,000 to pay for the food at 22 cents per meal.
"We don't expect people to just open up their checkbooks and write a number like that all the time," Barrette said. "But Baylor has been unbelievably gracious in making this something they want to do with their athletes at the beginning of the year."
McCaw said he hopes to make the FMSC project an annual event, "because it's so important to our student-athletes, and they want to keep doing it each year."
"I think from a participation standpoint, people love this," Schrank said. "And whether it's this or something else, I think there needs to be something. But overall, I think we've had a great response from this event and they're just a very organized group to work with, they're wonderful people. It's just so easy. We basically bring students, some pens, some tables, and they get it going."
If you are interested in finding out more information about Feed My Starving Children, check out the web site at www.fmsc.org.