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Kids Against Hunger-Brainerd Lakes Area undertakes initiative to feed the hungry

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One million meals.

It’s an ambitious goal, but one Kids Against Hunger-Brainerd Lakes Area is ready to take, with help from the community.

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“Food designed for starving people is what Kids Against Hunger packs,” said John Poston, executive director of the Kids Against Hunger facility in Nisswa.

While the rice-based, protein-packed meals are delivered to food shelves, they primarily are shipped to Haiti, the Philippines and Syria to feed starving people.

Now the local Kids Against Hunger organization is undertaking the Million Meal Challenge to help feed hungry people right here in north central Minnesota with meals that are more familiar to Americans.

“Every food shelf tells me the same thing: ‘We have more clients and we have less food.’ That’s a common thing you hear,” Poston said, noting that not all the food at food shelves is what hungry people should necessarily be eating.

“They need something that is, No. 1, real nutritious; and No. 2, they need something they can rely on all the time,” he said.

Thus, the Million Meal Challenge.

Working with an organization called Outreach, Kids Against Hunger-Brainerd Lakes Area recently received ingredients to pack 50,000 meals — a macaroni and cheese meal and a beans and rice meal, both containing vitamins, minerals and soy for protein.

“Both of these are really nutritious, really healthy. The bad stuff is out of them and it’s something we want them (food shelves) to rely on having constantly,” Poston said.

Meals will be delivered to food shelves, soup kitchens and homeless shelters throughout north central Minnesota. They also will be provided to Operation Sandwich next summer to help feed hungry children who aren’t in school, and to be included in backpack programs at area schools to help feed hungry children.

It costs 25 cents to produce each meal, so Kids Against Hunger-Brainerd Lakes Area seeks to raise a quarter million dollars to buy the ingredients. The nonprofit organization will rely on area businesses, civic groups, churches and individuals to raise the money.

“And then we’ll need a lot of volunteers — hundreds of volunteers — to do this,” Poston said.

He expected volunteers to begin packing the macaroni and cheese and beans and rice meals this week. The goal is to be able to buy enough ingredients and pack enough meals to supply food shelves for a year, with the momentum of fundraising and packing meals to then continue.

Nancy Vogt can be reached at nancy.vogt@pineandlakes.com. Follow her on Facebook.

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