The Detroit Lakes community is embarking on its first-ever Feed My Starving Children food packing event, a charitable effort to feed malnourished children in some of the world’s poorest regions.

Led by area church pastors from the Detroit Lakes Ministerial Association, the event calls for 500 local volunteers and $22,000 in donations in order to purchase and pack up 100,000 meals.

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Feed My Starving Children is a Christian nonprofit organization based in Minnesota that coordinates and provides food for these kinds of “mobile pack” events, and then distributes the packed food to kids around the globe. So far, more than 70 developing nations have received nutritious meals through the organization's efforts.

“Feed My Starving Children is the largest mobile pack in the country,” said Pastor John Simonson of First Lutheran Church, a leading organizer of the Detroit Lakes Community Mobile Pack. “And it totally relies on volunteers.”

Simonson’s first experience with a Feed My Starving Children mobile pack was at one of the organization’s permanent sites, in Eagan, Minn., and it opened his eyes to the problem of child hunger -- as well as to the power communities have to create real, positive change in the world.

“It’s a very tangible, tactile, hands-on experience that created an awareness that I hadn’t had before, and that was what I wanted to bring to people,” he said. “The unfortunate reality is that it is possible to feed the world -- we just really poorly allocate our food.”

He went back to his church at the time, in the tiny town of Killdeer, N.D., and organized a mobile pack there. Feed My Starving Children’s minimum requirement for a mobile pack is 100,000 meals -- a daunting number in a town with a population of just 750 people. But Simonson and the Killdeer community pulled it off.

Knowing Detroit Lakes, he feels this community will pull it off, too, no problem. He believes Detroit Lakes has a tendency to respond quickly and generously to charitable efforts. He and the other pastors have already been hearing from area congregations, schools and other organizations interested in helping out with the mobile pack here.

“Detroit Lakes loves engaging in its own community -- whether it’s the arts, the Detroit Lakes Community Center, the schools or churches, we’re really good at it,” he said. “DL is (also) a rural community that embraces outsiders. So this seems like such a slam dunk. We’re so good at being a community, and now we can do what we do best for someone else, as well.”

Meals provided by Feed My Starving Children are designed to meet the nutritional needs of malnourished kids, increasing their body weight and spurring development with proteins, soy, rice and other healthy ingredients.

Emma Duncan, the director of children’s ministry at First Lutheran, describes the food as a “hearty, casserole-type dish” that actually tastes delicious. Volunteers may get an opportunity to try some after the mobile pack.

Duncan is currently organizing the first fundraiser for the Detroit Lakes Community Mobile Pack, a Walk of Art featuring artwork by kids from the church. The framed art will be available for sale at First Lutheran on Sunday, with all proceeds going toward meals for the mobile pack.

It’s not known yet where in the world the meals packed in Detroit Lakes will end up. Simonson said delivery locations change often, and are based on where the greatest need is at the time. For awhile, a lot of meals were going to Haiti, he said, and the food from his mobile pack in Killdeer went to the Ukraine.

Regardless of where it goes, the positive impact on humanity is the same.

“One of the coolest parts about this is, at the end, they tell you how many children will eat for an entire year based on what you just did,” Simonson said. “It becomes a very addictive experience, which it should be.”

The Detroit Lakes Community Mobile Pack will be held in one of the main gyms of the community center on Friday and Saturday, September 14 and 15. There will likely be one pack on Friday evening and three packs on Saturday. Each pack will be 90 minutes long and will require about 125 volunteers.

“I find it to be an incredible, community-strengthening event,” Simonson said of mobile packs. “I think we are at our very best when we consider ourselves global citizens… It’s an hour and a half of your time and you get to make a difference for someone in the world. It will change their life, literally.”

Those interested in volunteering, or making a donation, may do so online at If this year’s mobile pack goes well, the goal going forward will be to try and beat the previous year’s record.

More on the Walk of Art fundraiser

This Sunday, May 6, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the main lobby of First Lutheran Church in Detroit Lakes, kids from the church’s Wednesday and Sunday School classes will be exhibiting and selling some of their own framed artwork as a fundraiser for the Feed My Starving Children mobile pack. The kids were encouraged to be creative and artistically open, and their works show it: some pieces are wild explosions of glitter, while others are carefully drawn depictions of animals or objects. They’ll be sold for $5 or $10, depending on the size, and four-packs of postcards will be available for $5. Food will also be sold at the church during that time. All proceeds will go toward meals for the Detroit Lakes Community Mobile Pack.