A Des Moines church has just finished a 40-day effort to buy, assemble, package and distribute hundreds of thousands of meals to feed the needy in central Iowa and abroad. Pastor Pat Quaid, of the Lutheran Church of Hope, says he was overwhelmed when he learned they’d made nearly one-point-six million meals to ship to the island nation of Haiti.
Pastor Quaid says, "We were blown away. We even set the goal of a million just so that it was something that was out of our sights but we realistically thought maybe we could do 600,000 to 700,000 meals but a million just seemed way outside of the possibility realm." He says another 66,000 meals have already been distributed in central Iowa, including 12,000 hand-delivered sandwich lunches that were given to homeless people living under bridges, underpasses and in camps along the Des Moines River.
Bags of groceries were delivered to tens of thousands of others in the region. As for the Haiti side of the effort, Quaid says groups of a dozen or so church volunteers would create teams that knocked out hundreds of bags of meals at a time.
Quaid says: "There was an assembly line process where we had one person putting rice in, and then soy, and then the vegetable, and then the vitamins and flavoring and then that had to be measured out and be specific to weight, and then sealers would seal those bags and then a group of people would package at each of the tables." From the roster of some 6,700 church members, he says 4,700 took part in the hunger relief effort. Quaid and others from the congregation just returned from a scouting trip to Haiti earlier this month.
He says they "identified two locations that seem to be safe and secure for storing and also distributing the food. Next week, there will be two containers that have over 500-thousand meals that will be shipped to these two different locations and we’ll begin distribution." Those "containers" Quaid mentions are 40-feet long, almost the size of a semi-trailer or a boxcar. Several more are on the way.