Residents who Feed the Need

February 2020 View more

Sophia Scharosch, 17, of Naperville, scoops rice into a bag for Evelyn Herrera, 12, of West Chicago, at the 2018 Feed the Need.

Whether it’s supporting our troops or helping others halfway around the world, Napervillians love supporting a good cause. Feed the Need Illinois is one such event where community members work together to pack food for the nonprofit organization Feed My Starving Children (FMSC). Last year 5,000 volunteers helped pack 1.3 million meals during the two-day event—enough to feed 3,647 children for a year. This year, Feed the Need will be held February 15 and 16 at North Central College’s Res/Rec Center.

Since 1987, FMSC has been enabling adults and children to hand-pack nutrition-dense meals in a highly organized and fun environment. Volunteers either visit one of its eight permanent packaging locations—in Illinois, Minnesota, Texas, and Arizona—or they can participate in one of the hundreds of MobilePack events, like Feed the Need, that are hosted throughout the country.

These specially formulated meals, designed to prevent and reverse undernutrition, are sent out to food-distribution partners around the world. “The work we are doing at FMSC not only feeds kids physically, but it also feeds their spirits—and ultimately empowers their communities,” explains Carrie Wiggins, development advisor for MobilePack. “Once their food needs are met, their creativity, talent, and energy are freed so they can focus on accomplishing new things in the community regarding health care, entrepreneurship, agriculture, and job creation. It’s really cool to see the impact it has on the entire community.”

Community Collaboration

The local Feed the Need event grew out of three smaller mobile packing events originally held at Good Shepherd, St. Timothy, and Our Saviour’s Lutheran Churches in Naperville. When organizers decided to join forces and host a larger event, Feed the Need was born.

“If you look at their growth over time you can definitely see that it has enabled them to feed more kids. Last year they packed 1.3 million meals—the largest number of meals that event has ever packed,” says Wiggins. “In my region, which encompasses Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, and Tennessee, there is no other event that packs that many meals in such a short amount of time,” she says. Since 2010, Feed the Need has packed nearly seven million meals that have shipped to 14 different countries around the world.

The event is open to the public, and volunteers can sign up for one of six 90-minute packing shifts during the two-day period. The Res/Rec Center is large enough to accommodate 50 packing stations, all the ingredients and packing materials, as well as an area for the video orientation. “It’s very unique to have an event that large all in one space,” Wiggins says. “There is just a ton of excitement because the event is so large, because the goal is so huge, because packing is so fast, and because the whole community comes together.” Feed the Need also collects nonperishable food items for local food pantries during the event. Last year they collected and distributed over a ton of food.

“I love how this truly is a community event. You get people from different faiths working together, which is beautiful. Both businesses and civic organizations bring large groups of volunteers. Plus you see scout troops, high school key clubs, sports teams, students coming in from the college, and general community members,” Wiggins notes. “There is something really fun about seeing how the entire community comes together.”

Advance registrations are highly recommended. To register for a two-hour time slot (which includes the orientation and packing time) and to learn more about this year’s event, visit

Photo by Alicia Fabbre