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Kids Against Hunger finds a home in Nisswa

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It took five months and hundreds of volunteer hours but John Poston’s vision for a Kids Against Hunger official office in the Brainerd lakes area has finally become a reality.

“I’m so thrilled,” said Poston, the Nisswa site’s executive director. “We’ve been working on this (building) a long time and to finally get to the point of packing, it’s very exciting.

“This is something that was needed in the Brainerd lakes area.”

Poston, who worked various packaging events that the Kids Against Hunger New Hope headquarters office put together in the area with Central Minnesota Teen Challenge, said hearing the staggering numbers of the amount of kids dying due to hunger is what made him know he wanted to help and bring that to Brainerd.

“When you start to hear those numbers, that a kid under five years old dies every six seconds because of malnutrition, that’s just a horrific number,” said Poston. “To hear that, at least in my particular case along with my wife’s, I wanted to help and try to change that and that’s what our purpose here is to do.

“With New Hope putting together packing events here (in the Brainerd lakes area) that was a huge indicator that an office in the area would work. We know people in the Brainerd lakes area are very giving financially and with their time and some of those past Kids Against Hunger events verified that. I am just so excited to see it thrive here in this area with our office.”

Combining rice, soy, vitamins and minerals along with dehydrated vegetables into a 390-400 gram bag, Poston said that anyone from the age of five on up is able to put together a group to come in and pack. And not just for other countries, Poston added that some of the food packed will go to northern Minnesota communities in need, too.

“The neat thing about this (Kids Against Hunger) is that it is kids doing the packing most of the time,” said Poston, whose office includes an educational room that shows packers what their work is doing. “Typically we will have five-year-olds draw on the boxes, but once they are around eight, they can start dumping the food in to bags.

“Another great thing about this (Nisswa) office is that this food will also go to communities of northern Minnesota along with places like Haiti where the need is usually greater. It will also serve as the site to store food for natural disasters so if something like (the tornado) in Wadena happened, we would be ready to take food over immediately to feed people and help the community recover. Of course the biggest amount does go overseas, but it’s still a place that we have to help our own communities as well.”

And with plenty of hours put in by the Central Minnesota Teen Challenge group, there was no better fit than to have roughly 50 of its members be the inaugural packaging group July 27, putting together nearly 30,000 meals during a two hour time span. The group first blessed the building for its success and Poston felt equally blessed to see his own success of the Kids Against Hunger’s new location.

“It’s such an amazing thing to see this all come together with the work and help of the community,” he said. “We have had a tremendous amount of community support working on this for five months with 100 percent of it done through volunteer operations and donations.

“It’s really just such an exciting thing to have for me, and for this area.”

JESSI PIERCE, staff writer, may be reached at 855-5859 or Follow her on Twitter at (@jessi_pierce).