Remsen's Fourth Annual TFJO set to take place Apr. 11

Thursday, April 6, 2017
Heather Youde of MMCRU introduces Lauren Pottebaum, Brady Portz, and Tom Ahlers to present the TFJO program at MMCRU. (Photo contributed)

The fourth annual hosting of Then Feed Just One (TFJO), hosted at Remsen St. Mary's (RSM), is scheduled for April 11. There will be a morning and afternoon shift. A short orientation will occur just prior to each of the shifts, at 9:40 a.m. for the 10:00 a.m. shift; and 12:10p.m. for the 12:30 p.m. shift, so a person can plan on spending about two hours to work a shift.

RSM's history with TFJO goes back to 2008 when Spalding Catholic invited RSM to collaborate with them when they packaged meals. Back then it was called Kids Against Hunger. RSM hauled busloads of students and faculty to Granville Spalding every year for the packaging. "The comments among the RSM faculty and staff was that it was such a great activity and how we would love to do this at St. Mary's; and just think about how many meals we could package for the starving people of the world if the whole community of Remsen were involved," stated Norine Harvey, RSM Development Director. When it became clear that Spalding would no longer be hosting TFJO, RSM asked to be a host school. "From the beginning we wanted it to be a Remsen community event where the church members from all three churches and students from both schools worked together," remembers Harvey. The meals are comprised of rice, soy protein, freeze-dried vegetables, and a powder containing minerals and vitamins especially needed for malnourished bodies.

The meals are headed for Honduras. Richard Sievert, the head of TFJO in Le Mars, noted that the meals will be unloaded and controlled by the Cerro de Plata Foundation of Tegucigalpa. The meals will be distributed throughout a network of orphanages, malnutrition centers, and schools. Some of the food will go to the Tolupan of Montana de la Flor - the oldest indigenous group in the country.

All students at Remsen St. Mary's, preschool through grade 12, will help with the food packaging as well as students from MMCRU high school and middle school and community members and businesses.

Last year 435 people helped with the event, and at this point we are still signing up workers. We set our goal higher for meals packaged this year, but it all depends on the donations to cover the costs.

The four RSM seniors who just returned from the Gehlen Mission Honduras trip paid tribute to TFJO. "TFJO is a worthwhile event," stated Michael Koenck, "We got the chance to actually unload the truck carrying TFJO meals while we were in Honduras. It assured me that the food we are packaging actually gets to Honduras. From what I saw of all the poverty in that country, like grown men and children digging through the garbage just to get a meal, showed me that we definitely need to do TFJO and more!"

Hannah Loutsch, was also adamant about the value of the program, "After experiencing the most wonderful mission trip to Honduras, it really changes one's perspective on how we live. Unpacking the truck with the TFJO food on it was comforting--knowing that all the hard work we did back home was really helping all these families who get one meal a day. We might think it is not much, but they think it is everything. This organization is so wonderful even if we aren't feeding everyone we are making a difference."

CLT moderator, Kris Schiltz, noted, "We pick a date during Lent, a time when we try to sacrifice some and give more to others. What better time than Lent? This year the CLT took over collecting the money from preschool-grade 12. Wednesday was TFJO money day, and a CLT student went to the classrooms to collect what the students brought in that day. The money came as coins or dollar bills towards each students' $30 ($15 for the younger kids), and sometimes a check for the full amount. "We want to thank the parents for working with us on this. We know it may be difficult especially when you have several kids," commented Schiltz.

The RSM seniors have really stepped up their involvement this year. The Christian Leadership Team have provided an educational presentation on TFJO to all the classes at RSM, as well as the MMCRU middle and high school students. All the seniors have been involved in planning of set up and packaging day. Many of our usual adult volunteers have agriculture related jobs and anticipate being hard at spring planting preparation on April 11. The seniors have been very willing and anxious to take on more responsibility. Seniors from both RSM and MMCRU will be taking on leadership roles on the day of event.

RSM is still looking for adult volunteers and donors for set-up on Monday evening and for the packaging day on Tuesday.

The number of volunteers and donations received determines how many meals get packaged. "We can only package the number of meals that we can pay for through donations which covers food supplies, equipment used, and shipping costs to Honduras, Harvey explained. "We have had persons who generously donated $100 (or more) to the TFJO event. That $100 enables us to package an additional 625 meals! TFJO has a host of positive impacts for the donor. Where else can you provide a meal for someone for sixteen cents, contribute towards your Lenten almsgiving, fulfill a Corporal Work of Mercy-- Feed the Hungry, and have that great feeling you get when you help others!"

People can still sign up to work, and RSM will be accepting walk-in workers and donations now and throughout the day of the April 11 packaging event. But the sooner people sign up the better, as all the jobs are scheduled into the assembly line packaging to make the process go smoothly as all the actual packaging is done in a matter of a few hours. If anyone wishes to be involved with TFJO at RSM, just call 712-786-1324 or 786-1433.