faith and values

Rose French

As a Christian-based charitable organization, Feed My Starving Children is usually closed on holidays like Easter to observe the religious event.

But this year for the first time, the Twin Cities nonprofit is open on Good Friday and Holy Saturday to allow for church groups and other volunteers to pack meals that feed the poor.

"We get requests from churches who say, 'We'd really find it meaningful to send groups to pack on Good Friday or on Thanksgiving, days when Christians are celebrating a holiday in their faith," said Holly Donato, national marketing director for Feed My Starving Children. "They're looking for a way to express their faith."

"It gives people a way to enter into a deeper sacrificial service to the poor on a day they would normally just be celebrating with family or in church," Donato said.

"They're able to take their faith one step further, observing that holiday in a Christ-like way while also serving the poor."

The group's Chanhassen and Eagan packing sites held morning sessions on Good Friday for volunteers who brought a required $50 donation. The Eagan site will also be open on Holy Saturday morning as well. The group's other packing sites in Illinois and Arizona will also be open those days. All told, some 600 volunteers are expected to pack nearly 130,000 meals.

Founded in 1987, Feed My Starving Children tackles world hunger by sending volunteer-packed meals to nearly 70 countries, where they're used by orphanages, schools, clinics and other groups. Last year, 657,000 volunteers produced 163 million meals. The meals consist of rice, soy nuggets, dehydrated vegetables and a flavoring packed with 20 vitamins and minerals.

Because churches and other groups have shown particular interest in packing meals around the holidays, the nonprofit is contemplating opening its packing sites again around these special times.

"It's more than just sending a check. It's really being invested with your time … It's a very tangible contribution."