Mt Pleasant News
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Wash Journal   Fairfield Ledger
Neighbors Growing Together | Oct 18, 2017

Take Away Hunger sends food to hurricane ravaged areas

Oct 13, 2017
Photo by: Submitted Take Away Hunger is partnering with another relief organization that has hands on the ground in Houston. They are going door to door, restocking pantries and freezers in the areas that were hit the hardest by flooding.

By Grace King, Mt. Pleasant News

 

Don and Sandee Fields have a dream of packaging 1 million meals in Henry County to send to hurricane victims in Texas and Florida.

Directors of Take Away Hunger, Don and Sandee are changing their focus from sending more overseas meals, to sending more meals within the U.S. “with all this catastrophe here at home,” Don said. Take Away Hunger is a food relief organization that motivates teams to package food to be used locally and overseas.

With their goal of sending 1 million meals, they are partnering with their longtime friend Rod Baker, who runs Helping Hurting Children out of Tulsa, Okla., and has spent over 20 years distributing food throughout the U.S. in disaster areas.

“Don and Sandee have been champions for children and the elderly,” Baker said. “People don’t understand, especially in disaster relief areas, it’s very difficult to get the product you need that can help sustain families for a period of time. (Take Away Hunger’s meals are) just a beautiful product.”

Baker is working with volunteer Terry Henshaw, who has been on the ground in Houston for over a month, going door to door handing out food in the neighborhoods hit the hardest by floodwaters.

“These are people who have lost everything,” Henshaw said. “Everything they own is stacked up on the curb eight feet high. People cry when we are able to bless them with so many different items. We’re talking about people who have taken everything and put it on the curb. When you’re coming with things that they’ve lost, they’re very grateful.”

So far, Henshaw said they have been to 1,344 homes, replenishing people’s food supply, filling their freezers if their electricity is back up and stocking their pantries.

“We’re delivering (food) house by house in the areas where they were running boats rescuing people,” Henshaw said. “We’re primarily working in the areas where it flooded waist deep, chest deep, where people had to be rescued off their rooftops.”

Henshaw has primarily been working with mission teams to distribute the food. Since housing is already limited because of flooding and hotels are filled with FEMA and Red Cross workers, the mission teams that volunteer to help are mostly staying in church gyms, Henshaw said. His team of volunteers, The Provision Group, also helps to feed the mission workers. He said they have fed over 120,000 meals to volunteers since helping with hurricane relief in Houston.

Although Henshaw hasn’t worked with Take Away Hunger directly, he said the ease of just being able to boil water to make a complete meal with vitamins and minerals is so much more sustaining than leaving people with canned food.

“You can’t make a meal out of spaghetti sauce,” Baker said.

Take Away Hunger’s packaged meals were engineered by Iowa State University. They have two combinations, black beans and rice and mac and cheese, the latter which they are still in the process of getting approved for domestic use. Both meals contain enough vitamins, minerals and protein to be a full meal — just add hot water.

Back in Mt. Pleasant, Don trusts the process.

“We will be putting our meals into (Baker’s) hands so he gets it to where it needs to go,” Don said. “We know it’s getting into the right hands.”

To meet their 1 million meals goal, Don and Sandee are imploring the community to join them, branding their mission to help hurricane victims with “Together, we can make a difference.”

There also will be opportunities in the community to help package the meals.

Kay Overton, at Aiker Mennonite Church in Wayland, has worked with Take Away Hunger for 10 years packaging meals. They held a family-friendly event on Oct. 1, with Sugar Creek Mennonite Church and Wayland Mennonite Church, where they had a potluck and ended up packaging 10,800 meals that night. There is another packaging scheduled through Aiker for November.

At the end of the year, Aiker will have packaged 400,000 meals with Take Away Hunger over the past 10 years.

“It’s been a great ministry for our church,” Overton said.

Aside from volunteering with packaging, Take Away Hunger needs money. Even though each meal costs only 25 cents each, including packaging and shipping, 1 million meals adds up. In total, it will cost around $200,000.

“That’s pocket change, don’t you think?” Sandee said.

Donations can be mailed in to Take Away Hunger at 1301 W. Saunders Ave., in Mt. Pleasant, or given online at www.takeawayhunger.com/donate. For questions about how you can participate or host a packaging event, call 319-385-1770.

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