This is what the Willow Lake auditorium looked like on Thursday morning. In celebration of FFA Week, 55 Willow Lake FFA members and community adults formed five assembly lines (not all pictured) to package food to be shipped by Kids Against Hunger while middle school and high school students observe.
Is there a better way to celebrate FFA Week than to prepare 35,640 meals for the needy?
The Willow Lake High School auditorium was the site last Thursday morning as 55 Willow Lake FFA members, FFA state officers and a FFA national officer, along with community members, packed all these meals for Kids Against Hunger.
Willow Lake FFA advisor Dan Tonak knew it would be a big project, needing financial backing and a huge work force.
“We were able to do this project because of very generous grants and donations from Cargill, the Willow Lake Lions Club and a handful of individuals in the community,” said Tonak, as $8,450 was needed to take on this worthy project.
Katie Nieman, Aberdeen, office manager for Kids Against Hunger, was in attendance Thursday morning and she explained the process of the five assembly lines, with 11 at each assembly line.
“The food will probably go to Haiti,” she commented as she said that Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere.
The Kids Against Hunger organization takes the food after it is assembled and ships it to the needy.
Nieman explained that four main ingredients make up the contents of the meals: long grain white rice, fortified soy protein, a mix of dehydrated vegetables and chicken-flavored vegetarian flavoring containing vitamins and minerals.
Nieman’s father, Terry Haar, has worked with Richard Proudfit for 30 years. Proudfit is the President of Kinds Against Hunger, located out of Minneapolis.
“Today we will put together over 35,000 meals, package into 165 boxes with 5,346 pounds of dry ingredients,” said Nieman. “Each package contains about 390 grams and six servings.”
Natasha Reddig, a Willow Lake FFA junior, is the initiator of this project. She was looking for a community service project for her ag class and found on the internet the Kids Against Hunger–Aberdeen website.
“From there we had to decide whether or not to make this commitment, and I’m awfully glad we did,” said Tonak.
One of the assembly line workers was Wiley Bailey, the FFA Southern Region Vice President. When the national FFA officer was asked about his first trip to South Dakota, the cold temperature was on his mind. “I haven’t experienced anything like this,” he said, and he said he understood why everyone wears T-shirts this time of year underneath their button-down shirt.
The Auburn University junior said he was very proud of the Willow Lake community by feeding the world–starting at home!