The Feed

Stories of Feeding God's Children Hungry in Body & Spirit

Innovation and Hope in a Minnesota Prison

Innovation and Hope in a Minnesota Prison

Unprecedented. Innovation. Hope.

These three words have been echoing throughout Feed My Starving Children (FMSC) meetings and prayer calls over the past few months. In an unprecedented time that has led to empty warehouses and packing rooms, canceled MobilePack™ events and furloughing staff, Feed My Starving Children has committed to turning a bleak situation into one that is filled with innovation and hope.

Among many other ways FMSC is adapting to COVID-19 with virtual fundraisers and developing co-packing partners, we recently began hand-packing meals in an unprecedented way: by setting up a long-term packing partnership in a correctional facility.

We’ve held MobilePack events in prisons, but we have never set up long-term packing outside of our permanent packing sites.

In fact, FMSC’s partnership with correctional facilities dates back to 2012 with our first MobilePack in Shakopee Women’s Correctional Facility in Minnesota. Since then, FMSC has partnered with facilities in Missouri, Mississippi, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Illinois to pack over 1.5 million meals with incarcerated people in 20 different events.

An Innovative Solution

MINNCOR Industries is a company that operates within the Minnesota Correctional Facility-Faribault (MCF-FRB) to provide inmates employment through subcontracted manufacturing jobs. With the arrival of COVID-19 restrictions, their work projects were deemed non-essential and stalled.

MINNCOR Industries had heard about FMSC’s past work in correctional facilities and reached out to see if there was a way we could provide valuable work for inmates at MCF-FRB.

It was the perfect solution: FMSC had paused volunteer operations and COVID-19 was limiting incarcerated people’s ability to do much outside of their cell wings.

Together, the two teams developed a plan. Inmates would pack meals at a “linear station”— in which meals would be packed in an assembly line that follow social distancing standards. The teams also collaborated to instill extra safety measures to be enforced throughout this project, including extra sanitation of equipment in between each packing session and all participants wearing masks and gloves while packing.

Incarcerated men pack Feed My Staving Children meals at the Faribault Correctional Facility in Faribault, Minnesota

On the first day, 30 incarcerated people worked together for two hours to pack 10,584 meals. In a time where production of MannaPack™ meals has been limited, the hard work and dedication of the men at Faribault Correctional Facility is more important than ever.

Two FMSC staff members are facilitating the initial packing shifts at the facility, training MINNCOR staff to take over food production and sharing the mission of FMSC with the inmates as motivation to pack these life changing meals.

Feeding Spirits

As with all volunteers who enter into an FMSC packing site, the inmates have been hearing success stories of children like Emma, Nelson and Jascent to give them a deeper glimpse into the impact that this meal packing project has on the lives of kids they will never meet.

“I heard so many offenders talking about how they were honored to do this…saw them lift their heads and marvel a bit when I told them the impact of what they are doing on kids all across the world,” said Adam Hanson, Coon Rapids FMSC Site Manager and one of the staff facilitating the packing.

He noted that this project is much different than anything these men have done before, and sharing the heart of FMSC with them is “planting seeds that God will bless.”

A MINNCOR Staff member wasn’t quite sure how the project would be accepted by the inmates, who are used to working in the onsite woodworking shop.

“Everybody here is really happy to have something to work on, something to focus on. To keep us going,” he said. “We’re also really happy to be feeding kids and have a positive impact. For the offenders, this is the most exciting part of their day. They're happy to be a part of it.”

We are anticipating that we will partner with MINNCOR Industries to pack nine shifts each week, producing somewhere near 150,000 on a weekly basis and employing over 60 inmates through the MannaPack Rice packing project.

FMSC is also very happy to be a part of this project as it allows us a concrete way to live out the mission of FMSC to feed God’s starving children, hungry in body and spirit.

In a period where each hand-packed meal is more precious than ever before, we are grateful for the meals that are produced within the walls of MCF-FRB and are filled with hope knowing that God is guiding FMSC through this unprecedented time.

 

Note: The week of June 8, we will be celebrating the millionth meal packed at MCF-FRB! Meals packed at the facility are on their way to Thailand, Haiti and El Salvador. Praise God!

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