Group gears up for food pack

Volunteers work a shift during the 2018 Martin County Kids Against Hunger food pack at St. John Vianney School in Fairmont. (Photo courtesy Karen Sandhurst)

Mother Teresa said, “If you can’t feed one hundred people, then feed just one.”

Martin County Kids Against Hunger is overachieving. It has fed more than 1 million people.

The organization is currently getting ready for its 11th annual food pack, which will take place Feb. 16 at St. John Vianney School in Fairmont.

The event requires the help of volunteers who work in three shifts throughout the day to pack food, some of which will stay local and some of which will be shipped to Haiti.

In the past 10 years, Martin County Kids Against Hunger has packed 1.1 million meals and raised more than $282,417 to cover the cost of the ingredients and shipping.

Karen Sandhurst, a chairwoman of the Martin County Kids Against Hunger committee, explained that the group sends out letters to local businesses, churches and civic groups, asking for a donation and/or a team of packers. While some businesses send in money, many send a team of employees to help pack. The suggested team size is 10.

“Our goal is raising $25,000 and packing 125,000 meals,” Sandhurst said.

Any extra money raised gets sent to Sioux Falls Kids Against Hunger, which is a permanent satellite. This means it has packers on an ongoing basis. So extra money raised by Martin County Kids Against Hunger still pays for food and shipping, it just may be packed in Sioux Falls.

Martin County Kids Against Hunger has been active since 2009. It has always found many people willing to help with the pack. This is fortunate, because many people are required.

“It involves a lot of people,” Sandhurst said. “Between the planning committee, packers, the helpers, the people that feed the helpers, the high school volunteers, the people who load and unload the truck, those who put on the Kids Against Hunger concert and the acts. If you add it all together you get up to 500.”

On the day of the pack, teams work together to assemble bags with the meals in them. Each bag has six meals and 36 bags fit into a box, totaling 216 meals per box. Sandhurst said each team typically packs 10 to 15 boxes.

The meals are a mix of chicken-flavored powder, dried vegetables, soy and rice. When mixed with water, the meal is a sort of casserole. It’s highly fortified with 21 vitamins and minerals, and one meal is all a person needs nutritionally per day.

Sandhurst said that while they have many teams of volunteers for the day of the pack, they could still use a few more. Teams can sign up at

“If I get some individuals, I can help fill in the cracks and add them to a team too,” Sandhurst noted.

Those who have questions about the pack or who wish to volunteer or donate may contact Sandhurst at (507) 848-1260.