Leaders of the Pack Needed for Packaging Events!

Meals from the Heartland is always looking for volunteers to serve in essential roles that help packaging events run smoothly and efficiently. We’re so thankful for our current team of dedicated support volunteers and are looking to grow it! Read on to learn how you can take serving at Meals from the Heartland to the next level.

Leader of the Pack

A supervisory role, leaders of the pack are familiar with the layout of packaging room including supplies, ingredients, labels, etc. and are able manage events from 20 to 120 packagers, depending on the event. Leaders will train other support volunteers, are responsible for making sure packaging tables are stocked, ready for the event and put away at the end of the night. This role is essential in ensuring we can host as many hunger fights as possible, allowing us to spread out time and energy of our staff and hardworking volunteers.

Meet a few of our current leaders!

Two of our Leaders of the Pack are friends and co-volunteers Pam (pictured, left) and Donna (pictured, right).

Pam and Donna (newsletter) - Email Size“I’m here because I just can’t imagine what it would be like to be hungry every day, not knowing where your meals are coming from,” says Pam. “It feels great being able to directly help with that need.” Pam has been helping feed the hungry in Iowa and around the world since first joining the Annual Hunger Fight planning committee five years ago.

“And I spend my time volunteering at Meals from the Heartland because it’s an awesome cause that’s instantly rewarding,” says Donna of her six years volunteering at Meals from the Heartland. “You see results and the benefits of your efforts right away. There’s nothing quite like it.”

And yes, all Leaders of the Pack get their very own neon-yellow T-shirt (you know you want one)! If you’re interested in volunteering beyond packaging, but don’t feel quite ready for a supervisory role, we also have several support positions available such as event greeters, floor support and more. Contact us today if you’d like to learn more!

As the Earth Shakes, the World Steps In

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It’s unbelievable how one day children and families can be going about their daily lives, studying, playing and working, while the next entire communities are flattened and thousands are left homeless and hungry, wondering how they survived and who of their family and friends were also spared…

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Tens of thousands have been left homeless and are currently living in tents in Nepal. (Photo courtesy of Convoy of Hope)

Navigating Disaster Relief in Nepal
The tragedy continues to unfold in Nepal, one of Asia’s smallest, poorest countries, due to the massive 7.8 and 7.3 magnitude earthquakes that recently rocked the nation. We’re so thankful for passionate, on-the-ground partners like Convoy of Hope, that are working tirelessly to give hope and relief to the 450,000+ displaced, 19,000+ injured and countless mourning children and families of the 8,200+ killed in the quakes. At Meals from the Heartland, we are in close communication with Convoy of Hope to see how our meals will aid critical disaster relief plans for the shaken nation.

We anticipate that your meals, packaged at our facility in West Des Moines and around Central Iowa, will reach the earthquake victims in Nepal. Convoy of Hope’s team is currently assessing the situation and working with in-country leaders concerning logistics to provide relief. As essential infrastructure begins to heal, our meals can then begin to be shipped in. The country’s recovery plan will be long-term, and our meals will likely support ongoing feeding initiatives in the country, long after the earthquakes cease. Time will tell as needs are made clear, and we will work to keep all of our volunteers and donors updated on those efforts as we are able.

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Locals help dig through the rubble caused by the massive earthquakes. (Photo courtesy of Convoy of Hope)

What You Can Do to Help
In honor of the Nepalese children and families in need, as well as other hurting communities in Iowa and around the world, you can pack meals during open packaging shifts at our facility in West Des Moines or host a private hunger fight of your own.

Please also consider helping fund the meals by donating online or sending tax-deductible checks to 357 Lincoln Street, West Des Moines, Iowa 50265. Since our meals cost just 20 cents each to package, any and all gifts truly make an impact on local and global hunger.

For ongoing updates in Nepal, you can visit Convoy of Hope’s website and Facebook page. Thank you for your compassion and partnership in alleviating hunger for the hurting world around us!

Read on to learn more about the Nutrition and Distribution of our meals.

Introducing Greg, our new Director of Operations!

Greg - WebsizedGreg DeHaai has been hired as Meals from the Heartland’s Director of Operations to oversee packaging events at our facility in West Des Moines and around Central Iowa. Coordinating inventory for ingredients and supplies is no small task, considering the millions of meals thousands of volunteers package every year. He’ll be integral in keeping efficiency of highest priority so we can package as many meals as possible, while being good stewards of the gifts God has given us.

The University of Northern Iowa graduate has worked in the computer world and the medical device industry for the past 23 years. From these experiences, Greg will utilize his ability to multitask and work with teams and databases of all shapes and sizes. He’s excited to help grow and develop the ministry, including reaching our 2015 goal to package 15 million meals for food-insecure children and families in Iowa and around the world.

“I came on board because I believe in the purpose and mission,” says Greg of his decision to join the team in April. “I’m amazed at how communities rally to fight hunger. Work groups, churches, schools — I love how packaging events bring people from all walks of life together for a common cause.”

We’re excited to have Greg with us; for questions about hosting a hunger fight at our facility or a location of your choice, you can email Greg at

Banderas de Amor – Feeding the Hungry in Guatemala

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Driving an hour and a half up steep, barely driveable mountain roads, the team from Guatemala Landing Zone delivers meals to a remote village school in Chitucan, Guatemala. There, an ongoing record is kept of each child’s name, age and weight, so the team can check back every three months on the children’s progress.

“When you get to ‘the ends of the earth’, that’s where Chitucan is,” says Mary Purvis, founder and director of Guatemala Landing Zone. “And if you bring Meals from the Heartland, you will be welcomed with open arms.”

Victor and Isabela are two of hundreds of villagers in Pacux, Guatemala, who also receive Meals from the Heartland. Surviving on just $53 a month, the couple truly relies on the rice-and-soy meals as one of their main sources of sustenance, as well as the fruit, tortillas and drinks the feeding program provides. The couple takes their meals home, sharing one for lunch and the other at suppertime. On Fridays, they save the second meal so they have something to eat on Saturday.

The Banderas de Amor (Banners of Love) feeding program is aptly named for its compassion and declaration to make sure as many children and families as possible do not have to go to bed and wake up hungry every day. We’re so thankful for dedicated, on-the-ground partners like the Guatemala Landing Zone to deliver the meals you package to those in need.


Loading up the truck, preparing for the long, bumpy rides to the villages.


Meals from the Heartland rice-soy meals served in Chitucan, Guatemala.

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The Guatemala Landing Zone team weight checking school children in the village of Chitucan.

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Victor and Isabela, a couple that relies on Meals from the Heartland daily.

Read on to learn more about our local and international distribution partners!


Welcome aboard, Susan!

Susan BunzWe’re excited to announce that Susan Bunz has been appointed as Meals from the Heartland’s new Executive Director to oversee our operation that enables thousands of volunteers to feed the starving in Iowa, across the United States and around the world. Susan will draw on her 25 years of previous experience, particularly the 12 years she spent at Pioneer in various leadership roles, dealing with issues of world hunger, including ag development, sustainability and community investment and more.

“The mission at Meals from the Heartland won’t change until we see world hunger stats at zero,” says Susan. “But with the reality of natural disasters, illness outbreaks and poverty all over the world, we know there’s a lot of work left to do. I’m excited to be here and on-the-ground in the fight against hunger.”

Dave Bradley’s recent retirement as executive director comes with a fond farewell from the staff and many volunteers who worked with him. Dave was integral in growing the organization from a once-a-year packaging event into a program that hosts hundreds of hunger fights throughout Iowa, providing millions of meals to food-insecure families every year. But we aren’t letting Dave go too far; he plans to serve as a board member and volunteer as he enjoys retirement.

We’re so thankful for both Dave and Susan’s tireless efforts to further Meals from the Heartland’s mission. Be sure to stop in our packaging center at 357 Lincoln Street in West Des Moines and say hello to Susan!

Volunteer Spotlight: John Castings

March Newsletter

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!

Giving Hope in Haiti

Web-sizedAt 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 otWeb-sized (2)her 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!


You’ve been recruited … for the Supper Bowl 2015 Challenge!

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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.

Go get ‘em! Donate HERE

Building a Community that Cares

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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.

Hope for the Hungry in 2015

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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.

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