Kuemper students help package meals during the 2012 Then Feed Just One event. More than 1.3 million meals have been packaged at Kuemper since 2008.
Kuemper students help package meals during the 2012 Then Feed Just One event. More than 1.3 million meals have been packaged at Kuemper since 2008.
April 10, 2014

Inspired by Mother Teresa, Kuemper Catholic School students invite community members to join them Wednesday, April 16, to help package meals to send to Honduras.

"If you can't feed a hundred people, then feed just one," reads the Mother Teresa quote.

Kuemper's "Then Feed Just One" meal packaging event is held during the Lenten season every other year, said John Kitch, high school math and theology teacher and one of the event organizers.

"It ties into the whole idea of reflecting on what we have and things we can do to give up during Lent," said Kitch.

Since the first event in 2008, more than 1.3 million meals have been packaged in the Kuemper gym and cafeteria. Students were even served the meals on Ash Wednesday during the first year of the event, so they would know what food they were sending south, said Kitch.

The goal for this year is to pack 250,000 meals.

The Mission Honduras LeMars organization provides the raw material for the meals - rice, dried vegetables, flavoring, nutrients and soy. The cost - 16 cents per meal - covers the food, packaging materials and transportation, so those who give know that 100 percent of their donation goes directly to meals, not overhead costs, said Kitch. Participants are asked to donate about $25 to cover the cost of the materials used for the average number of meals packaged during a two-hour shift.

But funds are raised to cover those who cannot donate the full amount, Kitch added. One fundraising effort this year included making collection bottles to send home with students at the beginning of the year. Some students have returned with as much as $70 in spare change.

"They didn't realize how much money they basically tossed away," he said.

The event will run from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. All students in kindergarten through 12th grade will work a shift during the school day, ranging from half an hour for the youngest students to two-hour shifts for older students.

Parents and community members wishing to participate should call the school at 792-3596 to let organizers know when to expect them. In past years, between 200 and 400 community members have helped, including a busload of close to 100 residents of Manning rode to Carroll to participate, Kitch said.

Mission Honduras LeMars was started in 2002. Meal packaging is one piece of the nonprofit's efforts, which also include providing access to clean water and medical aid in Honduran villages. The nonprofit has a relationship with the Dole Food Co. - when it trucks bananas from Honduras to Iowa, its trucks return filled with packaged meals, said Kitch.

The country is the second-most impoverished in the Western Hemisphere. Many mission organizations are working to rebuild the country's infrastructure, destroyed by Hurricane Mitch in 1998. But in order for the native Hondurans to take over the responsibility, they must be healthy - and that is where the meals come in, said Kitch.

"It's giving back to the community and the world," he said, reflecting on the project's alignment with Kuemper values. "It's helping those less-fortunate."