Sauk Prairie Against Hunger packing food to feed hungry children Print E-mail
Around the Diocese
Written by Sue Barry, Catholic Herald Correspondent   
Thursday, Oct. 15, 2015 -- 12:00 AM

SAUK CITY -- How many people can you feed with a semi-truck full of food? The answer to that question is more than you might think, if you look at who is packing the meals.

In Sauk City, the nonprofit organization 6:8 Making Service Personal is planning its fourth annual Sauk Prairie Against Hunger (SPAH) Pack Event for October 22 to 24. Its goal is to pack 272,000 meals and to collect three tons of food and goods for the Sauk Prairie Food Pantry.

Feeding hungry children

“This year’s event is projected to feed 740 children for a year,” according to 6:8 Director Sarah Ramthun.

“That is significant . . . that is a lot of children being fed. The goal is sustaining the children we feed so they can go to school,” Ramthun said.

For this event each year, 6:8 partners with Feed My Starving Children, a global ministry, which since its founding in 1987 has fed millions of children around the world. The meals are packed at Grand Avenue Elementary School in Sauk City for this event.

The mission of Sauk Prairie Against Hunger, just one of 6:8’s ministry projects, is to feed people globally and locally, Ramthun explained.

Volunteer help

Over the past three years of doing this event, the project has had 2,111 volunteers working two-hour shifts to pack 762,264 meals, which have fed 2,088 children for a year. The event has also collected a total of 9,815 pounds of food for the Sauk Prairie Food Pantry.

Fundraising events are held throughout the year to raise the money to buy the food needed to pack these meals. Each meal costs 22 cents and to date the pack event has collected $167,698 to purchase the food it packs.

The food is provided by the Feed My Starving Children organization. Some of the events 6:8 sponsors throughout the year to raise money for this event include Ladies Night Out (a purse auction held in April), a Mother’s Day plant sale, and Fire on the River’s Flavors of Sauk Prairie in July.

According to Ramthun, “We need 180 volunteers for each two-hour shift of the pack event.” There are nine shifts this year: four on Thursday, Oct. 22; three on Friday, Oct. 23; and two on Saturday, Oct. 24.

Various groups typically staff certain shifts, such as local businesses covering the Business Pack shift on Thursday from 1 to 3 p.m. and the high school SPack shift on Friday from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. The Organization Packs (staffed by local community organizations) are encouraged to raise the money for the food it packs on its shift.

“We try to get as many people involved as possible. This year we are having one shift covered totally by the Knights of Columbus,” she said.

Knights of Columbus help

According to Russ Ballweg, member of the Knights of Columbus (KC) District 43 (Sauk City/Roxbury council) and SPAH Pack Event coordinator since its inception, “We are sure hoping to fill the spot we’ve been assigned (6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Friday).

“So far we have KC members from Cross Plains, Baraboo, Waunakee, and Spring Green who have agreed to help. We are first trying to fill the spots with Knights and their spouses. If we need more, we may have some include their teenage kids.” It is good to expose the kids to this kind of community project, he said.

“We also are hoping to get the KC packers to donate enough money to pay for the meals they pack,” he said. He added that he is also trying to get some state level KC members, such as the KC state deputy, to help.

The packing events are lively and fun sessions where friends and community members -- young and old -- come together and work for a wonderful cause.

Upbeat, Christian music is rocking the gym and people are working fast and hard to reach their shifts goal. They are coached and educated about the difference their efforts are making in children’s lives around the world.

A video explaining the pack is shown before each shift and at the end, more stories of actual children who have been saved are shared.

Ways to get involved

According to Ramthun, there are three key ways to get involved with helping this event and making a difference to help feed the hungry:

• First, a person can go to 6:8’s website -- www.MakingServicePer -- to sign up for a shift or two to pack the meals. She encourages people to get their friends, co-workers, or organizations to join in the effort and to bring a team to work.

• People are also encouraged to donate, keeping in mind the 22 cents it costs to pack a meal. For example, $80 feeds a child for a year and $150 feeds a village of 100 people for a week. Any amount is welcome and small donations add up quickly.

• Another activity that goes on during the event is for the local food pantry. People are encouraged to create a display with the items they are donating to the food pantry and the displays are judged and eligible for prizes in three categories: artistic creativity of display, total number of items, and total weight.

“It really is a fun and exciting way to make a difference locally and globally,” Ramthun said. She encourages new people to come on board.

For more information, go to the website listed above or call 608-658-4719 for more on the food pack event.

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