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Kids Against Hunger: Local effort sends 151,000 meals to Haiti

More than 600 volunteers stepped up to the assembly lines Saturday at the Boys & Girls Club of the Bemidji Area to fill bags of nutritious food to help the earthquake-devastated people of Haiti.

"The community really responded," said Mike Beard, who with his wife, Pam, is a member of the Kids Against Hunger of Central Minnesota. "Everyone was wowed not only by the whole operation, but by how good it tasted."

The committee makes a point of cooking up some of the rice-soy-and-vegetable mixture for volunteers to sample.

The effort exceeded the 150,000-meal-package goal by 1,000 and almost met the $22,000 donation goal at $21,200, with more donations expected. The volunteers operated at 20 stations, measuring, weighing and packaging the dehydrated meals, each of which can feed a family of six.

Beard said the volunteers also raised more than $100 for the Bemidji Community Food Shelf and donated more than 300 pounds of canned goods and other commodities for local distribution.

"We didn't forget the people here who are hungry," he said.

Combined with the 875,000 meals packaged by the sister Kids Against Hunger chapter in St. Cloud, the effort will fill four big cargo carriers for shipment to Haiti. Because the packages have a three-year shelf life, the meals will continue to be a boon to the Haitian people after the immediate emergency has passed, Beard said. However, they had information via e-mail from Kids Against Hunger affiliates in Haiti, such as Lifeline Christian Mission and other organizations, that they are feeding 9,000 people a day.

After the Dec. 26, 2004, tsunami devastated Indonesia, Bemidji's Kids Against Hunger packed up meals to sustain people in that country. Kids Against Hunger for the Love of Haiti repeated that outreach last weekend.

Donations are still being accepted at First National Bank Bemidji and at the Web site by searching for "Kids Against Hunger of Central MN For the Love of Haiti." Kids Against Hunger is a 501c3 nonprofit humanitarian aid organization that also can take advantage of free shipping of food through the United States government.