“Feeding families around the corner and around the world.”
Local resident Steve Sawyer is taking this slogan to heart. Sawyer is a field representative of the humanitarian group Kids Against Hunger. As a father of 11, he has a soft spot for children in need.
“In Oklahoma nearly 675,000 people will wake up each morning not knowing where their next meal will come from. Oklahoma is reporting a 40 percent or more increase in the number of people seeking food assistance,” said Sawyer. “There is no way we should let this happen.”
In a letter to Kids Against Hunger founders, Gov. Mary Fallin commented on these statistics.
“It is simply unacceptable that anyone in Oklahoma should go to bed hungry,” said Fallin.
Sawyer decided to meet the need, starting close to home.
“We have seven food programs in Mayes County where 16 percent of the population lives below the poverty line,” said Sawyer.
Fallin has issued a challenge, and Sawyer accepted. Fallin’s goal is to raise 1.2 million meals this year. Sawyer’s personal goal is to package 1,000 meals with Kids Against Hunger in February 2013. He wants to start raising awareness and interest now.
“The process is simple. Businesses and groups provide the funding to buy the food from Kids Against Hunger, then volunteers get together to package the meals,” said Sawyer.
Kids Against Hunger doesn’t give out regular meals.
“The meals we package contain 21 vitamins and minerals, six vegetables, rice, and soy that is 62 percent protein,” said Sawyer. “The meals were designed to pull kids out of starvation mode.”
Each package assembled contains six meals. The cost of each meal is only 25 cents.
“Everything about the process is kid friendly, from the packaging to the cost,” said Barbara Delacerda, Kids Against Hunger supporter. “The kids can easily see how their pocket change is feeding less fortunate children.”
Delacerda works at Bradford Christian School and attends Exciting Southeast Baptist Church and has worked with Kids Against Hunger at both places. Sawyer is telling people about his success with donations overseas to inspire them to help out in their own community.
“At the school we had all the kids helping out, about 32 total. The kids raised money themselves, and a private donor matched our funds,” said Delacerda. Sawyer says he can see the profound effect this volunteer work has on the kids.
“ I liked that it was hands on. I wasn’t just watching someone else make them,” said Rachel Sawyer, a Bradford student.
Delacerda says it is a learning experience for the kids.
“We explained about kids being hungry. We talked about the vitamins in each ingredient and why they are important. At that point the kids were excited to jump in and start filling bags,” said Delacerda.
Delacerda and Sawyer agree there is never a lack of enthusiasm with the kids.
“At the church we had 40-50 people helping, adults included. We ended up with about 24 cases total,” said Delacerda. “These cases I’m taking with me to Mexico, right after Christmas.”
Sawyer says his goal in working so close to home this time is to inspire Mayes County to empower our children and teach them that mission work can start at home.