Skip to comments.Feeding Starving People
Posted on 03/20/2010 10:47:31 AM PDT by Congressman Billybob
Last Saturday, we did something that was only a small step up from mindless, unskilled labor. Im glad we did it. We recommend it to everyone else.
An enthusiastic lady came to our Rotary meeting a week before. She was a teacher, acting as a volunteer for her church. She asked us to join with people from another half dozen other Rotary Clubs to pack 100,000 meals for starving people in Haiti. We decided it was a good cause, and we went.
There were two shifts requested at the National Guard Armory in the County Seat of Franklin, North Carolina. We arrived at 10:30 am, early for the second shift. A nice guy in a Rotary jacket gave us the good news that about a hundred extra volunteers had shown up for the first shift and there was not even room to park.
We came back in forty-five minutes, found a spot to park, and went in to sign up. We both got hairnets. (It was the first time in my life Id worn a hairnet in public.) And we took our places at a table set up for five workers. There was a funnel in the middle of each table, with pre-printed bags underneath. On the corners of the table were containers of soy meal, vitamins, dried vegetables, and rice.
That was the order in which the people on the corners were supposed to fill the bags. As the labels said, each bag would provide minimal meals for six people, when boiled for 20 minutes in water. When each table filled a small box of plastic bags, wed call out runner, and young people would take the box to the sealing tables.
Those people would adjust the rice (placed on top) slightly so each bag would be within two grams either way of the intended 390 grams. Then they would heat seal each bag. Theyd box them up and seal the boxes. And every time another 5,000 meals were placed in the waiting semi-trailer, a gong would be rung and the 300 or so people in the room would cheer, and then get back to work.
The organizers of this whole effort were a North Carolina group named Stop Hunger Now. Their overall goal was to get a million meals packed and shipped through the Rotary Clubs and churches just in Western Caroline. We gathered that parallel organizations in other states would do the same thing we were doing. The result would be hundreds of millions of meals, produced and delivered at a cost of 25 cents per meal.
We asked about the distribution of the meals. The first targets in Haiti were the schools. This provided a double benefit. Parents would know that their children would receive at least one, nutritional meal in a day. And, the children would have some exposure to learning.
You know me. I cant avoid some discussion of politics. I know the history of Haiti. When it was a French colony and when it had slavery Haiti was a net exporter of food. Haiti had a successful revolution only years after our Revolution. But for more than two centuries it has been plagued by incompetent and/or corrupt government.
Based on the speech of the President on Haiti at the White House two weeks ago, Haiti still has incompetent, self-destructive government. From a rich island which produced much food, it has been reduced to a nation of starving beggars with collapsible houses. The lady who spoke to our club brought along a sample of mud cakes. These are mud, shortening, and salt, baked in the sun, that mothers give their children to at least make them feel like they have eaten.
Beyond Haiti, two other examples of competent verses incompetent government are Zimbabwe and Singapore. The former was once the bread basket of Africa, exporting food to surrounding nations. Now, its people are starving; reduced to butchering and eating the carcasses of dead elephants. Also, its currency has been inflated almost to the point where printing money reduces the value of the paper.
Contrast that with Singapore, one of the most crowded nations on earth with the least amount of natural resources. Yet, Singapore is one of the Four Tigers of Asia, with a standard of living close to that of the United States.
What is the difference between Haiti and Zimbabwe on one side, and Singapore on the other? Singapore has a free and competent government, and it is dedicated to free markets as the basis of its economic prosperity.
Obviously, I support feeding people when they are starving. But in the long run, feeding the starving depends on policies of government, not packages of dried food.
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About the Author: John Armor practiced law in the US Supreme Court for 33 years. His latest book, on Thomas Paine, will be published this year. www.TheseAreTheTimes.us Reach him here: John_Armor@aya.yale.edu
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John / Billybob
Excellent column. Thanks for posting.
I’m now going back to my basement to work on my seedlings so that we will have vegetables, at least, next summer.
If we keep going the way we are going, I foresee mothers making mud cakes for their children in the USA someday. God save us!
All for it.
***Beyond Haiti, two other examples of competent verses incompetent government are Zimbabwe and Singapore. The former was once the bread basket of Africa, exporting food to surrounding nations.***
I read something really interesting about 45 years ago. During the Irish famine, Ireland was still an exporter of food.
I planted an 'heirloom' garden yesterday...this is a reproducing, non-hybrid, garden. I plan to harvest all for seeds and distribute 'heirloom' packets of seeds to all my friends and neighbors in the fall.
The English were exporting food from Ireland as the Irish starved.
***I foresee mothers making mud cakes for their children in the USA someday. God save us!***
I went to a local Tractor Supply Co last night to buy some baby chicks. The department employee was on the phone with someone who wante to buy some chicks BUT HAD NO IDEA HOW TO RAISE THEM!
The employee spent quite a bit of time telling this person how to keep them warm, what kind of feed to use, what to keep them in.
Then the caller asked what you did with them when they were grown. The employee said you kill and put them in the freezer for future food.
The caller then asked “Is that all you do?” to which the employee said, no you have to pluck and process (clean) them first.
The caller asked “Do you do that there?” Employee said, “no you must do it.” After more of this kind of talk the caller hung up.
I then talked to the employee and he said he gets lots of calls this time of year (Easter) from people who don’t have the slightest idea where food comes from or how to grow it..
He said he talked with one woman about how farmers were going out of business, and she said (now get this), “I’m not worried about farmers going broke! I get my groceries from Walmart!”
Exactly. The Irish were reduced to trying to survive by eating grass.
for more information about Rotary efforts in Haiti, Chile and beyond visit:
unfortunately, while Rotary has done wonders in getting around corrupt governments to help the suffering, we have not yet found a way to export/share good governance.
If we could just find a way to mix it in with the polio vacine...
to the Poor.
Levity aside, I am face-first committed to this. We have an heirloom garden, full canning facilities, and food and supplies for at least a year stored up.
If I don't need 'em, there are good people who will.
“Contrast that with Singapore, one of the most crowded nations on earth with the least amount of natural resources. Yet, Singapore is one of the Four Tigers of Asia, with a standard of living close to that of the United States. “
It has a standard of living equal to the best parts of the United States.
1) Free economy
2) Low income tax.
Been there, seen that.
You are a nice person, but we all already knew that! Your neighbors are lucky to live near a prince!
I'm not doing "heirlooms" except by accident. I'm concentrating on growing sure fire varieties guaranteed to do well in our short growing season. Once I master that, I'll be looking into heirlooms for next year.
I have a flat of lettuce & spinach started already and under the lights, and I planted tomatoes, peppers, broccoli, and Cosmos in the basement today. I've just come back from the hardware store with an additional heating pad to put under the new flat.
The tomatoes I started today are Bush Beefsteak, Early Girl, Tigerella, Tiny Tim, Gardeners' Delight, & Roma. There are so many varieties out there that it is hard to choose. Last year I had a tomato called Stupice (from Poland) that I'd never heard of. It was so sweet, but I couldn't find seeds.
After 3 days of 60 degree weather, I awoke this AM to 1/2 in. of snow on the ground, but it soon melted. I also bought a cold frame tonight so that some of these seedlings can go out earlier than I planned.
Are you on the Garden ping list that Red_Devil 232 keeps? He posts a new thread every Friday. Gardeners from all over the country share their expertise, and brown thumbs like me learn from it. Lots of heirloom gardeners there.
Do you do potatos? And what kinds are your favorites?
As Red_Devil 232 to be added to the ping list if you are interested.
I don't care to be on the ping list, thanks.
It looks like you have a good handle on what you want to do and how to do it, good luck.
I know this sounds short but I don't intend to be.
LOL! You wouldn't say that if you could see me tonight sitting here, surrounded by dozens of pieces of my cold frame that I am trying to assemble. The instructions (in 10 languages) are really non-instructions -- just diagrams. The apparatus is made of rather thick lexan, and there are no suggestions on how to punch, drill, etc. holes for the screws to assemble. So, I took their suggestions to go to the website for "further" instructions. Same ol', same ol' as what came in the box; and I'm getting all kinds of grief from my husband who doesn't understand why I need a cold frame in the first place, or even a garden!
I am determined to assemble this apparatus without help from him because I'll never hear the end of it, otherwise. Grrrrr. Looks like I'll have to use the toll-free number next. Tomorrow.
Best of luck.
BTW, my cantalopes started sprouting yesterday.
Backatcha! My husband assembled my cold frame and didn’t even tease me. It was complicated, but it looks good. I was very appreciative. This AM, I found an old storm window in the basement, and I could have used that. I asked for one, but it was never forthcoming. I thought all of them were out in the barn. I would have used this one, if I’d known it was so handy. Oh well, perhaps I can eventually have 2 cold frames!
BTW, my lettuce is up almost 2 inches in the basement, and my broccoli and cosmos and one tomato has sprouted so far. I’ve never tried starting my own seeds indoors before, and I’m surprised at the success I have so far. It’s too cold to set them out yet, but they’ll be fine in another couple of weeks — into the cold frame, at least. That will give me time to get the beds, fence, and water set up. Everything should be planted outdoors by May 15.
My tomatoes and peppers are 6-8 inches high...it was 72 degrees here today.
Humming birds have been at the feeder for a couple weeks now. So...
That is an awesome column John! Thanks for your volunteer work, since I can’t do it though, you have to go back.