Volunteer Spotlight: John Castings
John Castings is no stranger to suffering caused by hunger. Serving the homeless in downtown Des Moines and missions trips to Uganda, Venezuela, Costa Rica and South Africa have given John, and wife Sheryl, first-hand witness to the impact hunger has on lives in our community and around the world.
“The need is real,” says John. “I’ve seen children running the streets with nothing to eat except maybe one or two small feedings a day. When I heard Meals from the Heartland was working to address the issue, I just had to help.”
In 2013, John was offered the opportunity to help plan and build Meals from the Heartland’s packaging center in West Des Moines and he didn’t hesitate to volunteer. Now, after the building’s opening in February 2014, John daily lends his expertise in the warehouse, helping make possible hunger fights all across Central Iowa.
“This retired military man is anything but a saint, I can assure you,” claims John. “I just want to see this mission grow. I want to see more children fed.”
Read on to learn how you, too, can volunteer and play an important role in our mission to feed the starving!
At age six, Kerlin Antoine was in the zero percentile for height and weight and, to make matters worse, lost both of his parents due to accidents. Living with his grandmother in a rural Haitian village, she lied about Kerlin’s age so he would be eligible for Many Hands for Haiti’s Thrive for 5 program, where children aged five and under receive food, including Meals from the Heartland meals, health care and other resources.
Every day, Kerlin and his grandmother walk an hour and a half one way to attend the program. In just nine months, he gained eight pounds and grew six inches! This past fall, Kerlin also started Kindergarten, something that wasn’t possible for him without the support his family has received.
Thank YOU for playing a role in this life transformation! Every meal you package is one more opportunity to help children like Kerlin flourish.
Learn more about you can help package meals or fund ingredients and supplies!
Like many of us on February 1, you may be glued to your TV watching the Big Game — or just for the funny commercials if you’re not a sports fan. Either way, join the truly winning team this year by fighting hunger as you watch!
The Supper Bowl Challenge:
Pledge to donate for every point scored during the game and make a difference in the lives of the hungry in our community and around the world! Each of our meals cost just 20 cents to package and $1.20 covers the cost of one full meal bag that can feed a family of six.
For example: If you pledge to donate the cost of one meal bag per point and the combined score is 60 points, then your donation is $75 — feeding 375 people. Pledge whatever you want, and challenge family and friends to match it for an even larger impact!
And for all donations of $50 or more, we’ll give an official Hunger Fighting T-shirt that you can pick up at our packaging center in West Des Moines. No registration necessary for qualified donations, just come on in and we’ll reward you a shirt. Our address is 357 Lincoln Street, West Des Moines, Iowa 50265. Give us a call at 515-473-9530 to let us know you’re coming in.
So suit up and get in the game! You’ve been recruited to the Hunger Fighting Team. We hope you take on our challenge and play a role in changing lives both in our community and around the world. Watching the game this way, everyone wins.
Since Meals from the Heartland’s start in 2008, communities all over Iowa have stepped up in powerful ways to show that they care about the hurting and hungry in our state, as well as around the world. In fact, more than 125,000 volunteers have helped package nearly 50 million meals, making a huge impact on alleviating the suffering felt by far too many due to malnourishment.
Unfortunately, hunger is an unrelenting issue because of natural disasters, illness that overtake families or entire communities and generational poverty that will likewise take generations to overcome. That’s why we continue this fight against hunger and ask for your help in providing meals and giving hope to the hurting.
So join us on Monday, January 19, to serve in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day at our packaging center in West Des Moines. What better way to honor a great leader committed to seeing change in circumstances that seemed hopeless! Register here for shifts beginning at 8:00 a.m. and the last shift ending at 4:00 p.m. Our simple process for packaging meals, completed enough times, has the power to change entire communities.
A new year can be like a blank slate, offering a fresh perspective and renewed energy to make the upcoming year count. For New Year’s resolutions that can impact your life, as well as the lives of those in need, check out the following goals that can truly make a difference on behalf of the hungry in Iowa, across the nation and around the world.
Starting with these six days of hope, you can play a huge role in changing lives all year long:
Day 1: Feed someone every day for one year. At just 20 cents per meal, it only takes $73!
Day 2: Pray for the hungry and the hurting. Pick a time of day or day of the week to stop and remember the food-insecure families in our community and around the world.
Day 3: Make change matter. Set aside the change from every favorite coffee drink or meal that you purchase. Use our M&M tubes to help save the change!
Day 4: Serve with friends. Rally a group to serve together as floor support volunteers, join a packaging event or organize your own mobile event!
Day 5: Be a role model. Bring children to our packaging center open shifts (your own kids, nieces/nephews, students, etc.).
Day 6: Spread the word. Commit to telling 10 people about Meals from the Heartland’s mission. Better yet, bring them to our packaging center to learn more!
With your help, we plan to package 15 million meals in 2015. Every meal provided helps a child flourish, eases a worried parent’s burden and gives hope to victims of natural disasters. Thank you for partnering with Meals from the Heartland and committing to seeing the end of suffering caused by hunger.
As requests for emergency food assistance continue to rise across the nation, our sense of urgency to help the hungry is being cranked up. According to a report from the U.S. Conference of Mayors’ Task Force on Hunger and Homelessness, the need for food assistance has increased by 20 percent in Des Moines, the second-highest increase in the country. The report, along with other hunger and homelessness figures are detailed in this Des Moines Register article.
This is why we continue to roll up our sleeves and get to work. As you may know, we recently surpassed our 2014 goal to package 10 million meals. The impact this makes on our community and around the world is huge. Through local distribution partners like the Des Moines Area Religious Council (DMARC), the Food Bank of Iowa and others, we continue to provide hope to children and families in Iowa by providing nutrition they can rely on. And our international distribution partner, Convoy of Hope, helps deliver meals to the starving around the United States and across the world. But 10 million meals is not enough for the growing demand. In 2015, our goal is to package 15 million meals and beyond!
At Meals from the Heartland, we believe no child should go to bed hungry. But we can’t do it alone. Will you join us in the fight against hunger? Learn more about ways to volunteer or donate today!
The Thanksgiving season is upon us, which for many means celebrations chock-full of time with family, friends and, of course, shopping for those loved ones. But what happens after we give thanks on Thursday, flock to stores on Black Friday and surf through the best deals on Cyber Monday? It’s the perfect time to give back in honor of all this year’s blessings while finishing your holiday gift “to-do” list!
You can participate in #GivingTuesday and support Meals from the Heartland in several ways, including purchasing our hunger-fighting T-shirts as gifts for family and friends.
Click here for the red T-shirt, here for gray and here for blue.
And for those hard-to-shop-for people in your life, you can give a Hunger Fighter Sponsorship Card. These cards are available for $25 (funds 125 meals), $50 (funds 250 meals) or $100 (funds 500 meals) and can be presented as a gift in a loved one’s honor that provides meals for hungry children and families in Iowa, around the nation and across the world.
What are we thankful for this year? Our many committed and generous donors and volunteers that keep the fight against hunger going strong. We’re thankful for YOU.
Help Mike and Joel with the dishes!
We need help cleaning up from last week’s Annual Hunger Fight.
Register online or just show up at our new center at 357 Lincoln Street in West Des Moines.
We’re grateful to Scatch Cupcakery in West Des Moines for committing a portion of their profits to Meals from the Heartland. On August 1, 2014, every “Oh Happy Day” cupcake sold is $1.00 toward the essential cost it takes to package nutritious meals for hungry children and families in Iowa and around the world.
Every meal we package costs 20 cents. That means with just one cupcake, you are giving five people one less reason to wonder if they’ll eat that day. Not a bad way to help end the unnecessary suffering caused by local and global hunger.
To participate in this “oh, happy day” stop by Scratch Cupcakery on August 1, 2014, at the following location:
7450 Bridgewood Blvd Suite 215
West Des Moines, Iowa
Not a cupcake fan? We’ll still gladly accept your dollar(s) to help cover the costs of the millions of meals that are packaged each year! Learn how to donate here.
The 40 Millionth Meal’s Trip to Uganda
The Grimes United Methodist Church’s first stop in Uganda was the Watoto Church in Kampala. Watoto is the organization they are supporting with the mission trip. You can read all about their travels on their blog at: www.gumctouganda2014.wordpress.com
After the Watoto Church visit, the crew went to Noah’s Ark, a home and education center for abandoned children, where they helped unpack boxes of Meals from the Heartland rice and soy meals, including the 216 meals that were packed in a suitcase.
The leaders of Noah’s Ark expressed their appreciation for the meals specifically because the kids (and the adults) actually like them! He explained that some other efforts to send food, though well-intentioned, do not taste as good to the locals as these.
Nothing from the Meals from the Heartland packages goes to waste at Noah’s Ark. The team spotted boxes throughout the grounds, used as dressers for clothing, to keep bed mattresses warm and dry, to hold charcoal for fires and many other creative uses.
The group was taken to the kitchen to show what was cooking in the large kitchen kettles over open flames: lots and lots of meals from Meals from the Heartland! And at just 20 cents per meal, the impact this food has on alleviating hunger in this community is incredible.