Twin Cities-based non-profit communicates facts about hunger clearly, consistentlyon May 18th, 2012 at 12:28 pm
Last weekend, I went with a group to the Eagan, Minn., packing site of Feed My Starving Children, a non-profit organization with the vision to eliminate starvation in children throughout the world. In the two hours our group volunteered, we packed enough meal packs to feed 43 children for a year.
A meal pack, called MannaPackTMRice, contains 20 vitamins and minerals and consists of four scoops of ingredients: the flavoring and vitamins, dehydrated vegetables, soy and rice. One meal pack contains six servings.
As our sub-team of three fifth graders, one fourth grader and two moms filled bags destined to help people in Nicaragua or Cuba, we built momentum and fun in the process by chanting, “Vitamins! Veggies! Soy! Rice!”
According to fmsc.org, Feed My Starving Children produced more than 133 million meals in 2011 with the help of more than 525,000 volunteers. Meal packs are distributed to people in nearly 70 countries.
The experience taught me more about hunger taking place across the globe and also in my community. It also taught me that it is possible to contribute to a solution. And, it offered a great example of clear, consistent communication also containing four elements:
- Paint the big picture for your audience, then follow through with key details. Prior to going to the packing site in Eagan, our group gathered at our church for training. A slide show presented by the director of children’s ministry provided an interactive overview of hunger, as well as an introduction to Feed My Starving Children. Once at the packing site, a Feed My Starving Children team leader shared the history of the organization, its vision, and funding information. When we moved into the packing room, another team leader trained us on the equipment, food materials, and took us step-by-step through packing a meal.
- Tell a story that personalizes your message. The team leader shared the success story of one meal pack recipient that vividly illustrated how the work we were about to do really makes a difference.
- When communicating in person, let the environment reinforce your message. The walls of the packing site’s presentation room were covered with panels resembling lean-to shelters found in Haiti. One corner of the room was made to look like a shelter, helping volunteers to visualize the cramped living situations of many of the people who receive food from Feed My Starving Children. Facts about the organization were displayed in simple, yet powerful words and images.
- Conclude with a summary that includes a call to action. Following our packing session, our group returned to the presentation room where we were offered samples of a meal pack. As we tasted the comforting, warm food, a team leader provided our totals for the day. He also offered some ways that we could help fulfill the organization’s mission following our trip, which included sharing our experience with others through social media. I hope reading about my experience at Feed My Starving Children inspires you, too.
You can learn more about hunger throughout the world, as well as find information about volunteering or making a donation at fmsc.org. Feed My Starving Children has packing sites in the Twin Cities, Illinois, Arizona, and also offers MobilePackTM events in several communities across the United States.