March 2015 Newsletter
Hi everyone. Below you'll find the March 2015 newsletter from Midwest Food Bank's East Africa Division. We really can't adequately express our appreciation for your prayers and financial support. The kids in the schools we work with in Nairobi Kenya are the poorest of an impoverished nation, and the meals they get at school are often the only meals they eat. Without help, those meals would typically be bread made of corn flour and water, with maybe a few beans on top. Filling, but not providing a broad range of nutrition. So, from all of us associated with the East Africa Food Bank, and from the 16,000 kids in the schools we work with...THANK YOU!!
Director, East Africa Food Bank
March 23, 2015
Dear Friends, Family and Supporters.
Thank you for your financial and prayerful support of Midwest Food Bank's East Africa Division (soon to be known as Kapu Africa). Your contributions make all the difference in our ability to reduce hunger and provide nutrition for children in Christian elementary schools in some of the most miserable living conditions on earth.
2014 was a testimony to God's faithfulness. It was our first year…would there be willing Kenyan food donors? Would enough hearts be moved to financially support our efforts? Would we be able to avoid the dangers of everyday life in Nairobi? There are no other food bank operations in Nairobi, but why not? Looking back, we were given over $110,000 of nutritious food in the first year! We were entrusted with enough donated funds to fully cover our operating expenses for the year. And thankfully there were no safety issues for our local Administrator, Christine, or any of the volunteers. Throughout the year, we were so richly blessed.
Our business model has taken shape…simply said, we support Kenyans helping Kenyans. We have not shipped food to Kenya from the US, and currently have no plans to. Using Kenyan-donated food supports jobs there and fosters a sense of community. The kids know that what they're eating came from local businesses. For kids who have nothing, knowing that someone in their own community cares about them can be very special. Our most regular Nairobi-based donor contributes about 1,300 pounds of fresh vegetables every week.
We also began two potentially significant ventures in 2014.
In May, 2014, we were offered large quantities of fresh meat by a Kenyan crocodile farm, but the challenge was that we would be given whole skinned carcasses. So, we would need to "process" the meat…de-bone it, cut it into useable pieces, and distribute it. In the 9 months that have followed, many of you heard about this venture and we received enough donations earmarked for meat processing that we have secured a long term lease on land, and have built a small processing building adjoining the slaughtering operation. We're currently equipping the building. A key point is that it's all been paid for with specially earmarked funds, and not general donations. By mid-summer 2015 we expect to be delivering meat to our partner schools. We've been told that as little as 2 oz. of meat a week can make a noticeable difference in under-nourished children.
At the same time, Midwest Food Bank's Peoria-based team was busy reconstituting Tender Mercies (see www.tendermercies.com) so it can be manufactured in Kenya, using only Kenyan content. We're calling it Tender Mercies Kenya. And, we were led to a Christian family-run business that is willing to be our packager. This summer we plan to approach the Kenyan public school system to gauge their interest in adding Tender Mercies Kenya to their school lunch programs, with the agreement that any royalties they pay will be used to subsidize giving Tender Mercies Kenya to the private faith-bases schools we serve.
A confirmation of the impact your support is having came from a team of nurses from Eastview Church in Bloomington, IL. They make an annual trip to Kenya, and as part of the trip make random health evaluations of the kids at REM Elementary School, one of our partner schools. They always take extra money to buy vitamin supplements to treat the most common deficiencies they identify. This year, for the first time, they didn't find any wide-spread nutritional deficiencies that warranted broad supplementing!
We hope you can all share the feeling of blessing of being part of God's work in these young lives.
These newsletters are NOT an appeal for money. We get regular questions about where God has led the Food Bank in Kenya, and this is an update for those who have already been gracious supporters of God's work there. Please feel free to share what we're doing with anyone. If someone you talk with has a heart to provide support, they can donate through any Midwest Food Bank organization, with East Africa Division noted on the memo line. There is also an East Africa webpage as part of the www.MidwestFoodBank.org site, and anyone can read more about our program or donate on-line (we have a cost effective credit processing arrangement).
Our operating expenses will increase significantly in 2015 and beyond as we begin processing and transporting crocodile meat, start adding Tender Mercies Kenya to our schools' lunch programs (we've already ordered the first $16,000), and transportation costs will increase as we're blessed with increased food donations. As always, every dollar donated will be used to directly support feeding children unless designated otherwise. US-based directors are unpaid volunteers and personally fund their own travel expenses, and non-program expenses (like buying our van last year) are funded through specifically designated donations.
May God bless you for your willingness to support His work in Nairobi's slums. We don't know where this outreach will lead any of us, but He does. Hopefully an occasional update like this, and the pictures following, will help you see what an important part you've had in what's happening in these young people's lives.
Denny Mott, on behalf of Midwest Food Bank's East Africa Division