In 2010, a youth pastor from Wisconsin was with a group of his students serving members of the homeless population in downtown Chicago. After spending the day passing out clothing and food, Pastor Jason Eeten was looking for another service opportunity for the students in his youth group to do before they went home to Wisconsin. He came across Children’s Hunger Fund, and the group helped with a toy wrapping event, packaging Christmas gifts for kids in need.
After that first coincidental encounter, Jason kept coming back. Sometimes he brought his youth group and sometimes he would bring his family, but Jason kept returning to volunteer for seven years!
Unfortunately, the Children’s Hunger Fund Distribution Center in Chicago closed in 2018 and there were no more volunteer opportunities—but Jason stayed connected.
“That was a sad day for a lot of people,” he said. “Through my experiences of serving, knowing the heart of the ministry, and getting to know the people, I knew the integrity of the organization in general. At that point, I wasn’t able to serve there physically, but my family and I continued to donate financially, and we continued to just serve CHF how we could. I had built some relationships with people through the many years there, so I kept in contact with them.”
It was through those relationships that Jason first heard about Project Food Pak.
“It was one of those things that, when I saw the opportunity, I wasn’t sure about it,” Jason explained. “But when I learned more about it, I said ‘Absolutely!’ It seemed like a great way to motivate my youth group and have them serve.”
So, Jason began planning a Project Food Pak for students from fifth to twelfth grade at Lakepoint Church in Muskego, Wisconsin, where he serves as youth pastor. “I asked the entire church to get involved and bring in those specific items to help our students, and I’m actually asking the families to come in and serve alongside our students as we pack,” Jason said. After a month of collecting items like peanut butter, canned corn, spaghetti, and kid-friendly snacks, Lakepoint Church was ready to start packing, with the goal of filling 100 Food Paks.
Before they started packing, Jason shared with the students about the families around the world who are living in poverty and that here in the United States, there are many kids who also go without food.
“I wanted to help them see different perspectives on what poverty was like in different situations,” Jason said. “I don’t know all their stories, maybe they have a friend who has a home but is facing food insecurity, or they themselves are in that situation.”
After Pastor Jason shared, the students, along with their families, started packing! By the end of the night, they had filled 100 Food Paks! After the 100 boxes were filled, the students collected them all on a table and prayed over them and for the families that would receive the food. “Just watching the students as they heard the stories of what the food was going to, you could tell they were intent on learning,” Jason shared. “And to watch and listen to them pray over the boxes—that was so cool to see.”
Even though Jason was hesitant at first, after participating in Project Food Pak, he was eager to recommend it to others.
“It’s a neat thing that any group can do. You can tailor it to how it will best work for you and you can do it anywhere!”
Just like Jason and the Lakepoint Church youth group, you don’t need to live near a Distribution Center to volunteer with CHF. Start planning a Project Food Pak for your group today!