Several AMT employees participated in the 2016 Food Fight, an event geared toward feeding the hungry around the world. The three-day event was co-sponsored by Feed My Starving Children and the NorthStar Church Network. Over the course of the weekend, volunteers worked in 2½-hour fast-paced shifts to pack nutritious dried meals that contain vitamins, vegetables, soy and rice. By the end of the weekend, the volunteers had packed 5,044,464 meals – enough to feed 13,820 children for an entire year.

The formula was created by food scientists from major food companies such as General Mills to improve the health of children who are severely malnourished. The volunteer shifts began with a series of short videos showing the impact these meals have had in various places around the world. In one instance, a 2½-year-old boy named Emmanuel was reported to be in critical condition due to neglect and lack of food. He was found weighing nine pounds and unable to walk or talk. Feed My Starving Children provided meals for him, and he was brought to health. One year later, Emmanuel weighs 22 pounds and walks with a smile on his face.

This was the largest meal packing event in Feed My Starving Children’s history with 12,602 volunteers working over 12 shifts, including a trial-run shift that served as training for the certified volunteers that would run the remaining shifts. Volunteers worked at stations of 13-20 people with an assembly line to put a bag on a funnel, pour the food into the funnel, weigh the filled bags and adjust where necessary, seal the bags, and box them up. Additional volunteers performed labeling and warehousing functions, as well as refilling the ingredients and bags at each station. The process is FDA approved, so the event turned the Dulles Expo Center into a temporary food processing plant.

AMT employees worked the first official volunteer shift and filled a total of 36 boxes, each filled with 36 meal packs, enough to fill a pallet. Several other AMT staff worked on the warehouse crew keeping the boxes and pallets moving throughout the shift. At the close of this first shift, which was staffed to about 25 percent of the total capacity for the space, we had packed 146,880 meals and couldn’t imagine the goal of more than five million being achieved, but the momentum and excitement over the course of the weekend kept growing, and subsequent shifts were more heavily staffed with volunteers. The final shift, and most crucial for achieving the goal, was at 100 percent capacity and managed to pack 1,131,408 meals in just over two hours!

In addition to packing meals to send to other countries, the Capital Area Food Bank partnered with the 2016 Food Fight to collect non-perishable foods to help the hungry in the Washington metro area. Volunteers donated 8,912 pounds of food, filling 21 pallets over the course of the event, enough food for more than 7,000 meals.

If you are interested in learning more about Feed My Starving Children, go to www.fmsc.org. You can sign up to join in a meal-packing event at one of their permanent locations (primarily in Illinois or Minnesota) or at a MobilePack event such as the one AMT participated in, or you can make a tax-deductible donation on behalf of yourself or your company. You can even choose to host an event, which can be an incredible team-building activity for your staff and a great way to give back to people in need.