Hens, Hairnets and Haiti




What do these three random things have in common?  Tonight, a few good hens and I went to my church and helped pack meals for Feed My Starving Children, a Christian-based non-profit organization that provides much-needed food to kids around the globe.

And not just any food...they send "MannaPacks", small pouches of easy-to-prepare food (rice, soy, vegetables and vitamins/minerals).  These MannaPacks were developed with companies such as Cargill and General Mills, and are specially made to help provide instant nutrition to severely malnourished children.  Even better, if the kids that get it are no longer in immediate danger of starving, these MannaPacks provide important nutrition to keep them growing and healthy.

Feed My Starving Children relies on donations and volunteers to keep things running smoothly.  One way you can do something is to volunteer to help create these MannaPacks.  They organize groups, like the group my hens and I were part of tonight, at tables and for two hours, you pack meals.  Chicken flavoring, vegetables, soy and rice, in that order..over and over again.  You have someone holding the bags, someone else pouring the ingredients into the bags, someone weighing the bags, someone sealing the bags and last but not least, someone packing the bags into boxes.

It's two short hours out of our lives, that will make a difference in the lives of some kids halfway around the world.

To say that this can choke a girl up is an understatement.

While we packed, we gabbed.  We laughed.  We talked about our kids and school drama and life.  And every once in a while, we got quiet.  I thought about what a crazy planet this is, where things are so scary and awful for some people and so easy and carefree for others, simply because of where we happened to be born.

I thought about how much money American spend every year in the pursuit to get thin:  money spent on Weight Watchers and NutriSystem and Medifast and Jenny Craig.  Money spent on gym memberships and yoga classes and exercise equipment.  Money spent on stomach stapling and liposuction and even hypnotizing.

All because it's so easy to be fat in this country.

And then, I thought about the people in Haiti, the kids who would be eating this very food we were packing up. 

Before we got to packing, the people in charge showed us some pictures.  One of the pictures was of a little girl named Marilyn.  Marilyn was 3 years old when she was brought to a malnourishment clinic in Haiti.  She weighed 14 pounds.

3 years old, 14 pounds.  My sons weighed 14 pounds at their 6 week well-baby checkups.

They showed us a picture of Starving Marilyn.  Gaunt face pulled back in a grimace, the pain she was most surely feeling reflected in her eyes.  Stick arms, swollen belly.  And then they showed us a picture of Marilyn just a few months after receiving treatment, including meals from Feed My Starving Children.  Her face was plump and smooth, her body filled out, arms and legs sturdy and strong.  She was smiling. 

Now, I don't know from experience, but from what I understand, starving to death hurts.  Starving to death is a slow, excruciating way to die.  And to imagine a child going through that pain, that hopelessness, that death?  It's difficult, if not impossible, to do.  Especially as I sit here on my couch, me, the poor single mom who has never once been even close to starving no matter how broke I am.  I sit here with a full belly, a warm laptop in front of me, a television talking to nobody in particular and a cell phone at my side. My kids have certainly never been in danger of malnutrition. 

It doesn't make sense that somewhere, right this very second, a child is in agony because they don't have enough to eat.  I think about all the food we throw away every day here in the land of plenty.  All the sandwiches we pack for our kids that get tossed into the lunchroom garbage, the veggies that turn into fuzzy, unrecognizable lumps in the drawers of our fridges, the leftovers that get tossed into trashcans or scraped into dog bowls in kitchens in every city in every state of this country.

It doesn't make sense, and yet it's happening.  Right now, as I type this, as you read this.

If you're like me, it makes you feel small and helpless and powerless.  There isn't much we, as individuals, can do.

But tonight, my hens and I did a little, tiny bit to help.  We took two hours out of our lives and stuffed food into plastic bags that will be loaded onto a cargo plane and flown across an ocean and then, someone will unpack it, add water to it, cook it, serve it up.

And a child will eat it.

It's not much, I know.  But it's something.

If you're a praying sort of person, please say a couple, or a dozen, or a hundred for all the hungry kids out there.  And if you can, go pack some meals for a couple of hours.  It's not much, but if we all did it, it would make a little dent.


  1. I became really fond of the program when I volunteered at their Eagan site almost two years ago. I should make it a higher priority to go and help there sometime soon...

  2. Also, we all know where you stand on the use of the Oxford comma now...

    "Hens, Hairnets and Haiti"

  3. An old beau once dragged me to an Anti-Oxford-comma rally a while back. Guess it made an impression on me.


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