6:8 News‎ > ‎

‘Do you love me? . . . Feed my sheep’

posted Mar 20, 2013, 8:32 PM by John Ramthun   [ updated Mar 20, 2013, 8:33 PM ]

Written by Kevin Wondrash, Catholic Herald Staff   

Wednesday, Mar. 20, 2013 -- 12:00 AM

Last weekend in Madison, more than 100,000 meals were packed for hungry people at home and around the world.

A good number of the meals are going to children. Many of the meals were packed by children.

Saturday, March 16, was the second annual Lenten “Feed My Sheep” food-packing day at the Catholic Multicultural Center (CMC) in Madison.

The driving force behind the event is “6:8,” a group based out of Prairie du Sac that spearheaded a fundraising event and brought the money needed for the 100,000 meals. Last year, the group raised enough money to package more than 68,000 meals.

The executive directors of 6:8 are the husband and wife team of John and Sarah Ramthun.

As volunteers, including many children of all ages, poured into the chapel at the CMC for orientation, John shared the message of 6:8: “We desire to transform communities by making service personal,” said John.

“To really see that there is such a need in our society, and out community, more people working together, and it’s so easy to be isolated in our careers and family and sometimes we lose track of what it really means to be human.”

The task ahead

To put numbers and faces to the reality of hunger in the world, volunteers from Kids Against Hunger in Rock County shared some facts with the soon-to-be food-packers.

While some of the meals will stay in the Madison area, many of them will go to a school in Nicaragua. Volunteers told stories how some kids in the Central American country have to begin their days in a dump, looking for items to trade or sell in order to have food. The meals shipped there will go to a school started by a Catholic priest. School attendance is reportedly higher when meals are provided for the children.

The Rock County chapter of Kids Against Hunger helps provide the meals for packaging.

The total cost of one meal is a quarter. It contains a simple combination of rice, soy, vegetables, and a chicken flavoring. The flavoring is actually vegetarian and vegan friendly.

Packaging the food

After the volunteers watched a brief training video on how to package the meals, it was time to put on the hairnets and gloves.
Kids were the backbone of the operation as many parents brought their children along to help and also Confirmation groups provided their time and talent.

Almost two-dozen assembly lines were in action packaging the meals.

Some volunteers poured the ingredients into a bag; others weighed the bag and sealed them up. A favorite job of the smallest helpers was stacking the bags at the end of the table to make sure the output was at the necessary 36 bags to put in one box.

When a box was filled, the whole room celebrated. Everyone at the table yelled, “Do you love me?” Everyone responded with “Feed my sheep!”

Each table yelled “Do you love me?” around eight times per shift. That adds up to more than 1,700 meals packaged by each volunteer group.

For most volunteers, the time went by fast, especially once the reality sets in that the groups are really “making service personal.” The work being done will help people who are hungry, many of them the same age as the young volunteers.

Feeding the sheep

At least 55 boxes of food, or more than 12,000 meals, will go to the St. Vincent de Paul Society in Madison, while 25,000 meals will help the hungry kids in Nicaragua.

“We’re making a difference, we’re not just having a good time, we’re impacting the world, which is kind of amazing,” said Ramthun.
He expressed a hope of someday packaging one million meals in a weekend. No doubt a lofty goal, but the potential is there.