Ten years ago, in a small town about an hour southwest of Mpls – St. Paul, MN, a few compassionate people established an organization and embarked on a journey that would take them around the world many times over and impact millions of lives. John Neisen founded Feeding Children in Stewart, MN, a small town with the population of 558. Just a blip on the Highway 212 corridor, Feeding Children began with the goal of packaging 1 million meals in its first 3.5 years. And then a curious thing happened. They reached that goal within the first year! The rest of the amazing story needs to be told.
Food for Kidz celebrates tens of millions of meals over the ten years
Feeding Children built a warehouse along the highway within a couple of years, and quickly outgrew the space. They purchased the Stewart school complex in 2009, and built a four bay loading dock onto the school for more efficient operations. With this addition, Feeding Children was consolidated into one location, complete with offices, space for equipment, ingredient storage, and finished product waiting to be shipped. The original warehouse was transformed into a maintenance hub for their fleet of trailers and four semi tractors.
When Feeding Children of Stewart started in 2003, the world events were different, but the need for basic essentials like clean water and nutritious food has always remained the same. The thousands of people in Iran, Algeria and the Greek Island of Lefkada experienced the wide-spread devastation of earthquakes in 2003, and in the same year so many people suffered from the outbreak of conflict in Darfur and Iraq. In the last ten years, Feeding Children has responded to situations like these bringing food and hope to people in Africa, Southeast Asia, Europe, South America, Central America , and right here in the United States. In 2013, just ten years later, there’s a dire need for relief in Haiti, Philippines, Syria, Afghanistan and other places around the world.
When Hurricane Katrina hit our southern coast in 2005, Feeding Children was able to quickly respond. Feeding Children sent food to a Second Harvest food distribution site in Shreveport, Louisiana, and they were able to distribute food to people across several states.
Feeding Children, who now does business as (DBA) Food for Kidz since 2010, always receives tremendous support during times of crisis or when disasters happen. The thousands of volunteer hours it takes to package food, as well as monetary donations to Food for Kidz allows for instantaneous response to people in need. Millions of meals were shipped to Sri Lanka, Indonesia after the tsunami in 2004. Millions more were sent to Kenya for distribution in the refugee camps and areas supporting the Somalia refugees who were desperately seeking assistance because of the drought in the area. In 2010, Food for Kidz worked with their partner organization, Lifeline Christian Missions to deliver meals in Haiti, spanning 32 different mission sites and serving 45,000 people. Today, Food for Kidz is making sure healthy meals arrive at Afghanistan refugee camps and orphanages established due to drought and war and the Philippines after the hurricane.
A lot has happen in 10 years, but only with the generous help from those who volunteer and support Food for Kidz. With a small staff at Food for Kidz, they rely upon a core of 10-15 dedicated volunteers whose competence and compassion continue to propel them toward their mission: “to bring awareness to hunger issues in the world by involving others in the participation of packing a nutritional meal supplement for distribution and also involve them in sustainability building to facilitate change; to expand the concept of children’s’ experiences beyond their vision of local to incorporate the world and to service, promote and educate other organizations to encourage their commitment for the purpose of making positive results in the fight against hunger.”
On their 10 year anniversary, Food for Kidz celebrates tens of millions of meals that have been packaged and distributed all over the world. They celebrate having helped many partners start or further develop their own programs which include: ImpactLives, St. Louis Park, MN; Lifeline Christian Missions, Ohio; Helping Honduran Kids, WI; Kids Fighting Hunger, St. Cloud, MN; Then Feed Just One, IA; Stop Hunger Now, NC; Food for Orphans, CO; Hope International, MO.; Hunger Ends Here, MN. It is a core value of Food for Kidz to continue to reach out to more partners and bring more into the embrace of their network.
Food for Kidz wishes to extend a warm thank you to everyone who has helped spread the word about the organization, raised funds, organized events, and volunteered to package food. Together is a wonderful place to be, and together we’ll continue to make a difference in the lives of others and empower change.