MFB's Tender Mercies machine "for such a time as this"
Recently we shared how the COVID-19 crisis was giving the Tender Mercies machine a workout (here). That hasn't changed as the demand for Tender Mercies continues.
Looking back, that wasn't always the case. In fact, there were many days and sometimes weeks the machine sat idle.
"I see now that God had this all in mind," says Gail Thorson, Tender Mercies Coordinator. He is always ahead of us, planning and preparing."
Tender Mercies is Midwest Food Bank's highly nutritious and low cost meal packet of rice, pre-cooked pinto beans, soy protein and fortified chicken flavored seasoning. It can be made two ways - by volunteers on the Tender Mercies machine or by volunteers that hand measure each ingredient. The hand packing process allows people of all ages and abilities to prepare meals for others in large groups. The machine requires only a few volunteers and can produce about 35 bags per minute (each bag contains 4 meals). Both processes have advantages.
Providing meaningful volunteer opportunities is a priority of Midwest Food Bank and hand packaging Tender Mercies is one of the meaningful projects. With COVID-19, MFB had to re-think and alter the amount of volunteers in the warehouse at the same time that food requests were increasing. The machine provides the advantage of speed but with a small number of volunteers.
"We can still meet that need because we have the Tender Mercies machine," Thorson said. "We are blessed to have it and the investment in the machine has allowed us to continue in this pandemic."
At Midwest Food Bank, it's a blessing and comfort to see how God provides for our ministry, even when we don't see it right away.