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Valley residents come together to pack meals for starving children
Hilmar hunger pic1
Hilmar Colony 4-H student Emily Smith, 10 is joined by Lynette Smith and Carolyn Ahlem. Smith is holding the bag which Lynette and Carolyn fill with rice, soy, dehydrated vegetables and a vitamin and mineral mixture. - photo by JONATHAN MCCORKELL / The Journal

Hilmar Covenant Church was alive with the hope of changing young lives last weekend.

Dozens of church groups, youth and civic organizations, families and individuals volunteered to pack an astounding 300,000 meals for starving children worldwide. These meals will feed about 800 children for as long as one year.

Hilmar Covenant partnered with Feed My Starving Children, a non-profit Christian organization for the event. Meals consisted of a mixture of rice, soy, dehydrated vegetables and a chicken-flavored mixture that includes 20 essential vitamins and minerals. Volunteers packed Covenant’s gym for two days putting the meals together. Each meal cost 24 cents to make and the meals will be shipped to 70 countries.

Dan Johnson, associate pastor at Hilmar Covenant, said the church’s initial goal was to provide about 100,000 meals and to raise $24,000 for FMSC. He never imagined the cause would grow as large as it did. By December the church community, Hilmar Cheese and Associated Feed of Turlock teamed up to donate $39,000.

“So we decided to go for our God-sized dream of 300,000 meals and $72,000,” said Johnson. “We are helping to turn hunger into hope.”

The meals will be delivered to children via partnering missions and agencies.

“The meals are the first step so then organizations can provide education, healthcare and business development to poverty stricken areas,” said FMSC Mobile Pack Team Leader Marty Page. “We are so blessed here in the United States compared to so many. Part of being blessed is being able to give to others who are not.”

Children as young as three years old helped to pack meals. Oakdale mother Lisa Albertoni attended the event with her daughter Annie, 6.

“She definitely understands why we are doing this and she just wanted to help be part of feeding starving children,” said Lisa.

Hilmar Covenant church member Vince Diliberto was amazed at the number of volunteers and the level of thoughtfulness.

“With the way the economy is sometimes people just forget to donate their time. The real way to help is to give your time and help with your hands,” he said.

Diliberto was joined by his girlfriend Dezirae Kelting of Turlock.

“I would drive here to see him and I saw the sign out front. I didn’t think I was going to volunteer but I’m glad I did. This is incredible because it shows that we can all help to make an impact; just a little can go a long way,” Kelting said.

Kecia Bruce, a member of Harvest Christian in Turlock, helped seal meal packets with her three-year old granddaughter Kezia.

“Oh yes, she knows what’s going on here. In the past she has given toys. This is a good opportunity for her to learn how to serve others and give her time. As a grandmother I want to encourage this,” said Bruce.

For more information on Feed My Starving Children visit . For more information about Hilmar Covenant Church visit

To contact Jonathan McCorkell, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2015.