Sunday, February 19, 2012

A Valentine for Hungry Kids

Left to right: Stephen Armijo, Ali Frumkin, Nicole Nevarez, Aharon Franklin, Jaclyn Serru, and Britny Antoni
There were at least a couple dozen booths and tables on Valentine's Day across the University of New Mexico campus.  If you were looking for a small gift for a friend or a significant other you could find candy, chocolates, cookies, pastries and flowers almost anywhere on the bottom or upper floor of the Student Union Building or even just outside the SUB.  And many groups were selling these items to raise money for worthy causes.

One booth, in particular, attracted my attention.  About half a dozen students were gathered around a table with two prominent messages.  Fight Against Hunger was displayed on the front and Fight Poverty was the message on the side.  These students, members of the UNM Chapter of Kids Against Hunger, were selling carnations to raise funds for anti-hunger efforts in the US and around the world through the national Kids Against Hunger organization. The organization relies on volunteers and donations to purchase the supplies and to get the meals packaged and ready to be shipped worldwide.

A balanced meal
Alison Frumkin, president of the UNM chapter, said the flower sales brought a net profit of about $100, which would go to purchase meals for hungry children.  "The meal consists of four basic ingredients: rice, soy powder, chicken bouillon, and dehydrated vegetables," said Alison.  "Rice, because it is recognized around the world and provides carbohydrates. Soy powder boosts the protein to 53 percent and is a nutrient that most malnourished people are very deficient in. Chicken bouillon fortified with 21 essential vitamins, minerals, and amino acids for flavor and balanced nutrition. The final ingredient is the dehydrated vegetables, for color and fiber."

So how much can $100 buy?  Surprisingly, more than you think.
"The price of each meal has been changing because of shipping and product cost but last I heard it was 15 cents a meal so that would be about 670 meals give or take," said Alison.

Which begs the question of how the food is distributed and who determines where it goes. The organization works with individuals and organizations in several dozen countries.  "Kids Against Hunger organization will only deliver to location that they have established connections with," said Alison,  "For example when we made the meals for Haiti after the earthquake they went to about four different shelters/headquarters that KAH had already established to ensure the meals were getting to the people who need them."

Working in Albuquerque since 2007
The UNM chapter is new this year, but the organization has been working in Albuquerque since 2007, first at Holy Ghost Catholic school and then at St. Pius X Catholic High School.  There has been one constant all this time: Alison Frumpkin. One of the projects for the  St. Pius students was to collect food for local needs." In April of 2009 the Kids Against Hunger committee at St. Pius worked with the national Kids Against Hunger headquarters to bag 132,000 meals that were distributed across New Mexico, Oklahoma and other poverty stricken areas of our country," said Alison.   We did this by raising $12,000 to pay for the supplies and shipping. We were joined by students from Holy Ghost Catholic School as well as volunteers from the community to accomplish this project.

But there's more.  "In March of 2010, our school was challenged by the National Kids Against Hunger headquarters to raise $45,000 dollars in order to produce and ship 285,000 meals to Haiti for disaster relief. St. Pius invited all of the Parochial schools in the Archdiocese of Santa Fe, as well as Salpointe Catholic High School in Tucson, Arizona to join us in our fundraising efforts, as well packing the meals," said Alison. "It was a very challenging goal, and we often did not think we were going to meet it, but with community support and the generosity of hundreds of people, we did! We not only made a difference to the earthquake victims in Haiti, we also unified the Catholic schools of the region in service to others."

This year the chapter set a school-wide goal of raising $15,000 for its Kids Against Hunger project. "We once again invited other schools to join us, and they are fundraising as well to purchase the needed products. The committee agreed that this year, the majority of the meals would remain in New Mexico, and the region to help our own communities in time of need," said Alison.

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