Texas Baptists celebrate MLK Day by packing 23,000 meals


DALLAS—The phrases, "Vitamins!" "Protein! and "Vegetables!" echoed across the concrete walls of Texas Baptist Men's Dixon Mission Equipping Center as 175 Texas Baptist volunteers packed 23,000 meals on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day to send to Liberia.

The event served as part of a Texas Baptists Disaster Recovery (TBDR) initiative to send food packets to Ebola-stricken nations in West Africa where starvation has become a crisis.

Volunteers came from all part of Texas, including Shertz, Lawn and Huntsville to pack boxes of food packets. Each packet contained enough vitamins, proteins, vegetables, and rice to feed six people, totaling 23,000 meals.

Meals4Multitudes, a nonprofit organization in Athens that helps churches and organizations pack nutritious meals for third world countries, donated the food and supplies and educated the volunteers on how to properly pack the plastic bags.

The nonprofit first began as an initiative to provide food to Ethiopia, but Joel Palmer, CFO of Palmer Ministries and co-founder of Meals4Multitudes, said when the Ebola crisis surfaced, they felt a need to expand the ministry.

"When the Ebola crisis hit in West Africa, it hit during the growing season," Palmer said. "People quit working the fields. The fields weren't planted the next planting time. The area where Ebola hit is now in a severe food crisis."

Palmer said many of the volunteers that came to Dallas have intentions of setting up a similar packing event at their home churches.

Members of Ministry of Light Baptist Church in Huntsville attended with that intention in mind as well as to take the opportunity to serve on MLK Day.

"We are looking for every opportunity we can to expand in areas of ministry, and we think this is a great ministry," said Tommy Manuel, pastor of Ministry of Light. "Also, we came today because this is Martin Luther King Day. He was about giving. Rather than just hear from speeches or go to a parade, we thought this was a great opportunity for us to give back and provide service."

TBDR has already sent 1.5 million meals to West Africa. Once there are enough boxes to fill a 40-foot container, McLane Company in Houston will cover the cost to send the next crate to Liberia.

The MLK Day event provided enough boxes to cover 2 pallets. Eighteen more pallets will fill the 40-foot container. Churches and organizations can provide the remaining needed packets by hosting food packing events. Contact Marla Bearden (214) 537-7358 or Gerald Davis (214) 924-6401 or go to www.texasbaptists.org/disaster for more information.

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