Our Executive Director, Karen Freeman, wrote a letter to the Verde Independent on November 11th:
Manzanita Outreach/Kids Against Hunger would again like to extend heartfelt thanks to all who were involved in our monster packing event at Verde Valley Fairgrounds on October 11th. In one day we were able to successfully package 250,000 meals with the help of over 700 volunteers - truly a collaborative community effort! Blessings to all who were involved.
We began as an organization, with the initial goal to feed the starving children of Haiti, after the devastating earthquake in 2010. However, since that time we have realized there is also a need right here at home in Yavapai County. To that end, we procured another type of food product, 'mac n' cheese,' to be exact. On October 11th we packaged 125,000 of those meals, all of which will be distributed throughout Yavapai County, with the assistance of Yavapai Food Council.
Recipients of our local food product will include food banks, school backpack programs, seniors, veterans and families in need. We also will be donating additional food to various holiday food drives. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you know of any families or organizations that could benefit from our food.
On another note, we have not abandoned the needs in Haiti. I have just returned from a trip there and I am pleased to report that there are many obvious positive changes occurring there, since my initial trip in 2010. You who have been involved with our organization, are a part of those changes also. I would like to share what all your hard work and donations have accomplished.
Overall, Haiti remains an extremely impoverished country, with minimal resources offered by their harsh government regime, for recovery. It is inhabited by people just like you and me in so many ways. Men and women who are culturally different, who suffer under the burdens placed upon them. Mothers and fathers who love their children as we do, but suffer losses and hardships unimaginable to us. A beautiful people that I love with all my heart. They are a people who deserve not to be changed by us, but as we reach out a helping hand, they are a people who can be allowed to rise above their circumstances and return to lives of dignity and self-sufficiency.
To that end we are involved with an organization on the ground there, in the town of Gonaives and the village of Jubilee, by the name of Much Ministries. (www.muchministries.org) it is a group of people who live there and whose vision is to enable and restore the lives of the Haitian population they have grown to love, to an honorable and independent way of life.
Homes have been built to last, by training and using Haitian labor. A school has also been built in which the greatest percentage of teachers are now Haitian over American. Over 100 children are being taught and fed with KAH food daily. With the assistance of Manzanita Outreach, led by Kim Gould and greatly funded by Hauser and Hauser Farms, a medical clinic has been erected and is now powered by a donated solar generator. More and more Haitian community health care workers are being trained to works in that area also. A village well has been dug which provides clean water and also nourishes the community garden of trees that have been planted.
A trade school now flourishes in which local artisans are being trained and small businesses are being formed. Goods are being created and marketed in Port Au Prince and also available online at www.2ndstorygoods.com . Over 90 percent of the proceeds are returned to each individual craftsman, who in turn is able to feed their family and save to build their own home.
As Manzanita Outreach, our 501-C-3 umbrella organization, we have been a part of that work. As Kids Against Hunger, I would like to share more specifically what your financial donations and food packages are doing. Not only are we feeding Jubilee school children the only meal they receive daily, we are seeing marked health benefits and reversals in the effects of malnutrition. We are also supporting lunch programs in 5 orphanages and 1-2 village feeding programs for children who are unable to go to school. As we return to visit and oversee our food distribution, we can confidently say that we do know where your dollars and our food is going.
Here is my last and most exciting news. To support and partner with Much Ministries' vision to raise up the Haitian people themselves, we have begun a new trial project. The rice food product that you all have helped us pack, consists of rice, soy, dehydrated veggies and a vitamin/mineral/flavoring powder. Along with these meals , we have begun to send the bulk products, minus the rice, and some modified packing equipment. We are excluding the rice, as we encourage those willing to participate, to pack their own food, but using locally grown Haitian rice. This will not only stimulate their recovering economy, but will also give those who are involved, a sense of pride and ownership in the process.
As we continue along these lines, we would like to progress to slowly withdrawing our supply of dried veggies, thus encouraging their use of local produce. We are also investigating locally grown products that would add healthy and necessary nutrients. Does it sound to you that we are hoping to 'work ourselves out of a job' there?
So let me end by saying, "Good for you, Verde Valley! You have joined us in our efforts to not only feed the hungry here at home, but also are helping us to 'teach a man to fish,' so to speak." You have been a part of helping those less fortunate, and have become a part of something much bigger than ourselves. This is a time of year to be so thankful for the blessed lives of plenty that we do lead. We appreciate and covet your prayers, and continued support in every way. Feel free to peruse our website at www.kahverdevalley.org for more information.
Manzanita Outreach/Kids Against Hunger Verde Valley.
Read the original letter here.
I've served with this organization since its inception. During Saturday's event, I reminded our president Bob Shimko that when we did our first event in April 2011, our team of volunteers worked a 14-hour day to package 28,000 meals.
Saturday, we worked for roughly 12 hours to produce 250,124 meals.
The difference between then and now is twofold. First, we have learned a lot as we have done all these different events over the past three and a half years. We have greatly improved our assembly-line efficiency.
More importantly, we have a lot more help than we did when we first began this endeavor. During Saturday's event, we had more than 500 packing volunteers work three different 2-hour shifts and each group succeeded in packing more than 80,000 meals. In addition, we had more than 100 volunteers provide support service all day Saturday as well as during our set-up for the event Friday.
All of our volunteers are important, but it bears special emphasis of how our organization has been unofficially adopted by the Cottonwood and Verde Valley fire departments almost from the very beginning of this journey.
Last year, I was driving a truck back to Cottonwood from Surprise, Arizona, with several tons of new food product as well as all of our line equipment. Upon my arrival to our warehouse, there were more than a dozen firemen waiting for me. They unloaded the truck in short order and it made for the perfect ending to my day.
This past weekend we had firemen from both departments helping with the Friday set-up, and Saturday the Cottonwood firemen manned a product assembly line for two shifts in between service and medical emergency calls.
We saw the same spirit of volunteerism from a host of churches in the Verde Valley and students from elementary age to high school. Young and old alike all rolled up their sleeves to help us get the job done. A quarter of a million-plus meals.
With this event, we've developed a new product that will be distributed 100 percent locally to schools, senior centers, missions, churches, food banks and other organizations dedicated to feeding the hungry.
In addition, we will continue our distribution to third-world countries where childhood starvation is epidemic. Thanks to the network of someone who knows someone who knows someone, we're able to deliver meals to such outposts as Haiti and the Philippines for next to nothing thanks to the folks at Luke Air Force Base and the U.S. Navy's humanitarian aid relief efforts that ship from Florida.
At every step of the way in the journey of Manzanita Outreach/Verde Valley Kids Against Hunger, our organization has never lacked for anything. Initially, Verde Valley Medical Center allowed us to use the top floor of their new facility to store our product and supplies. We now have our own warehouse thanks to Verde Valley Christian Church. Every time we've had to make a big-ticket purchase for supplies, or most recently a new fork lift, we've had enough money to meet our needs, with much of it coming from anonymous donors.
Our success story is very similar to the way Tom Sawyer got his fence painted.
You guys deserve all the credit.
Read the original article here.
Our registration for this event is closed.
If you would like to print a waiver and bring it with you and just try to show up at the begining of each session, we can see if we have no shows and can fit you in. Thank you for your interest in helping.
Session times are: 8:00am-10:30am/ 11:00am-1:30pm/ 2:00pm-4:30pm
In the past Kids Against Hunger Verde Valley has suggested a financial donation to help us pack. This has covered the food, supplies and shipping the packaged food to those in need - here in the Verde Valley or in Haiti. For our October 11th event we aren't requiring a cash donation to volunteer, but we would still appreciate your contribution.
Check out this video from Kids Against Hunger on how to pack.
Check out this video from Outreach on our all new, 100% local distribution!
To read more about our packing event click here, or read the previous post on the Verde Independent article.
We look forward to seeing you on October 11th!
-Kids Against Hunger Verde Valley