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Published On: Fri, Jun 2nd, 2017

Minnesota event goal is to send 6 million meals for starving Somalia

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Araweelo News Network

Selam Berhea / St. Paul Pioneer Press

PAUL—30,000 volunteers. 630,000 pounds of rice. 6 million meals.

When Minnesota responds to tragedy — a famine threatening the lives of millions in Somalia — it goes big. Volunteers have got four days to do it.

“This is so Minnesota. If this wasn’t Minnesota — to find 30,000 heroes to pack meals — it would be difficult,” said Mohamed Amin, who is helping to organize the Love Somalia MobilePack event. “This is one amazing place to live in.”

The St. Paul RiverCentre will become the base for a massive humanitarian relief operation beginning Friday. It will be the largest-ever MobilePack undertaken by Feed My Starving Children, a Minnesota-based nonprofit that helps provide food to developing countries in need. The event will last through Monday.

The largest MobilePack event so far was last May in Lorton, Va., when 12,500 volunteers packed 1.5 million meals, said Sarah Wall, an event planner with Feed My Starving Children.

The goals for Minnesota are even bigger. Gathering 30,000 volunteers to pack 6 million meals has been two months in planning. Nonprofit groups from across the Twin Cities, as well as area Somali organizations, have joined the effort by recruiting volunteers as well as raising money and awareness.

A February Famine Early Warning Systems Network report on Somalia said a lack of rain has devastated the country’s harvest. And the scarcity of water has led to an outbreak of diseases such as cholera.

Oxfam, an international agency addressing global poverty, estimates that nearly 2.9 million people in Somalia are “facing acute food insecurity.”

The drought has caused a massive displacement of Somali people. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees estimates that 256,000 people “are newly displaced within Somalia.” Along with 881,329 registered refugees dispersed throughout Kenya, Yemen, Ethiopia and other countries in East Africa.

Feed My Starving Children began stationing raw materials for the event Wednesday in a parking lot at nearby St. Paul College.

“630,000 pounds of rice. 200,000 pounds of soy. 40,000 pounds of vitamin flavor. 23,000 pounds of vegetables,” said Robert Hall, ingredient buyer for Feed My Starving Children. Just those four ingredients require at least 26 trucks. Add in packing material and boxes, and the logistics grows even larger.

“We have about 29 trailers — 53-foot-long semi trailers and they’re coming from Louisiana, Illinois, Texas, Arkansas and various sponsors,” said Mike Jost, a logistics manager for Feed My Starving Children.

To pull it off, Feed My Starving Children is partnering with a number of organizations that reached out to them from the Somali community. The Minnesota Community of African People with Disabilities and the American Relief Agency for the Horn of Africa are helping deliver the food to Somalia and provide ground transportation.

MCAPD has already been on the ground in Somalia.

“Right now, we’ve reached two camps,” said Nimo Ahmed, executive director of MCAPD. “Our goal … is to deliver 18 containers (in total).” The containers are 40 feet long and filled with food and medical supplies.

To make it all come together, volunteers are needed — lots of them.

The goal is 30,000. Earlier this week, more than 16,000 had signed up. As word of the event spreads, many more will come forward, organizers hope.

Amin was happy to see the various backgrounds of the groups who have already signed up.

“We’re getting churches, mosques, temples,” said Wall, the event planner. “They really do want to support our Somali population in the Twin Cities.”

About the Author

- Arraale Mohamoud Jama Freelance Journalist and Human Rights Activist Arraale, is a 20 year experience as a professional Journalist and human rights activist Over the years, worked for the major News Papers in Somaliland as a reporter, editor and contributor. 2008 established website Araweelo News Network, he currently runs a web site based in Somaliland. who is the specializes in the investigation and reporting on issues relating to human rights, democracy, and good governance. contact: Send an SMS or MMS to + 252 63 442 5380 WhatsApp + 252 65 910 7347.

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