Thursday, November 20, 2014 · 9:21 p.m.
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Chattanooga volunteers were able to pack more than 1 million meals in five days. (Screenshot: Staff)

Question: What can 4,500 volunteers working two-hour shifts accomplish in five days?

Answer: Package 1,213,750 meals for children in developing countries who subsist on zero to one meal a day.

In a partnership with local organization Covenant Values Foundation, nonprofit Feed My Starving Children set up camp in an Amnicola Highway warehouse and pulled the Chattanooga community together for a MobilePack event Jan. 16 through Jan. 20.

Founded in 1987, FMSC is geared toward aiding starving and malnourished children in 70 countries by packing and shipping a scientifically formulated mixture of rice, soy, vegetables, and vitamin and mineral vegetarian-based flavoring mix.

CVF, a Chattanooga-based foundation that provides financial assistance to nonprofit organizations, first connected with FMSC through its grant application. 

Steve Steele, executive director of CVF, explained that as he began the typical due-diligence process, he was intrigued by the nonprofit’s financial data. The reports clearly demonstrated that 92 cents of every dollar donated went toward feeding a child.

Volunteers watched a demonstration of how to pack the meals. (Photo: Katie Oliver)

FMSC ran such a tight ship that only 8 cents was required for administrative, fundraising and overhead costs.

“Every time we peeled a layer deeper, we liked the organization more and more,” Steele said.

CVF made a $220,000 donation and served as the local partner for the Chattanooga MobilePack event in January. 

For days, CVF’s Amnicola Highway headquarters was full of volunteers working two-hour shifts from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. on weekdays and 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. on the weekend.

The event drew volunteers from churches, schools, the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and all over the community. Steele said that volunteers, enjoying the chance to make a meaningful impact on children’s hunger, created a fun atmosphere throughout each shift. 

Volunteers worked in teams to compile formula ingredients into sealable bags and place them in boxes. FMSC will continue its practice of partnerships at the other end of the food chain, working with local churches, organizations and global relief organizations to ensure the formula is delivered directly to those children in need.

Steele noted that this practice was another characteristic that drew CVF to the nonprofit: a dedication to seeing what it would help get done, not what it could do on its own.

“One of the things we really like to measure is how well the organization focuses not on what [it] can do but what [it] can see get done by partnering and leveraging [its] role,” he said.

Steele also credited the Chattanooga volunteers for the enthusiastic participation. CVF has also fielded countless requests to host another MobilePack event, which is being tentatively planned for either September/October 2013 or March/April 2014.

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