A 30-cent packet of dried food that tastes like a bland rice casserole may not sound like a dream meal. But the rations can fuel survival for hundreds of thousands of people left homeless after the earthquake in Haiti.
With that in mind, the El Dorado-based nonprofit Numana, the Salvation Army and the city of Wichita are looking for volunteers to assemble 1 million food packets to ship to Haiti.
The effort will happen 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. March 20 and from 1 p.m. to 8 p.m. March 21 in the Bob Brown Expo Hall of Century II in downtown Wichita.
Those seeking leadership roles can sign up at www.millionmeals.net. Those who just want to work can just show up and work.
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"We're confident that Kansas will rally around and we'll get the million meals plus," said Jan Anderson of Numana.
Numana's first food-for-charity effort started in December when 4,000 volunteers showed up in El Dorado and packed 285,000 meals to distribute to 49 schools.
The idea was that more kids would go to school if they had adequate food there. But a snowstorm stranded the food in an Iowa warehouse.
Meanwhile, one of the deadliest earthquakes on record struck Jan. 12. The Salvation Army asked Numana to reassign the food to be air-dropped immediately.
Since then, Numana has led the effort to send more than 6 million meals to Haiti, most of which have been assembled in the Wichita area, Anderson said.
"It's an amazing thing that people have rallied like they have," she said.
The meals contain rice, soy protein, freeze-dried vegetables, and a blend of 21 vitamins designed to support the immune systems of malnourished children.
With the devastating earthquake in Chili and other news events, it would be easy to forget about Haiti, said Major Douglas Rowland of the Salvation Army, which delivers the food with help from the 82nd Airborne.
"The need continues to be tremendously great in Haiti," he said.
The Salvation Army efforts in Kansas and western Missouri area have done more for Haiti than any other area in the country.
Mayor Carl Brewer, who is promoting the No More Hungry Kids campaign in Wichita, asked people to consider what kind of help they would want if they were in the situation many Haitians are in now.
"Wouldn't you want people from other countries to give — to do their part — to feed your family?" he asked. "I know I would."