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Mercy Meals packs millionth meal PDF Print E-mail
Written by Wauneta Breeze   
Friday, 29 January 2016 15:57

Mercy Meals of Southwest Nebraska packed their millionth meal for hungry children last Wednesday, Jan. 20. Here, board members, clockwise from left, Pastor Keith Wellman, Jan Coone, Mary Haarberg, Janet Keiser, Kent Haarberg, Pastor David McCarthy, Laurie Kerchal, Annette Long, Harold Long, Elaine Haarberg and Page Johnston show off the meal. (Pat Holder | Johnson Publications)


By Sheri Hink-Wagner

The Wauneta Breeze


Children across the world are a million meals less hungry thanks to volunteers at Mercy Meals of Southwest Nebraska. The group packed their millionth meal last Wednesday, Jan. 20 at their facility in Wauneta.

This milestone comes just three years and one month after the group packed its first meal in December 2012.

Mercy Meals board chairman Pastor Keith Wellman said the group feels nothing but gratitude for the accomplishment.

“The good Lord has blessed our efforts,” Wellman explained.

The group’s mission is to provide nourishing food to hungry children.

Mercy Meals of Southwest Nebraska, through the help of volunteers, packages nourishing food that will be delivered by the Orphan Grain Train to children in need throughout the world.

Meals are highly nutritious and carry a cost of only $0.11 per serving–which includes food and packaging materials.

Each meal consists of rice, soy, dehydrated vegetables, chicken-flavored vitamin and mineral powder, all designed to be gentle on the digestive systems of individuals who may be malnourished or starving.

The meals are nutritiously designed so if a starving person were to eat them three times a day for two weeks he/shewould no longer be considered starving, Wellman explained.

He also noted the meals’ flavoring is purposefully left bland so the recipients can add their own spices to flavor them according to their taste.

Once volunteers package the food, it is shipped free of charge by the Orphan Grain Train to those in need.

“The fact that Orphan Grain Train brings raw product and picks up packaged meals free of charge helps keep our cost down per meal,” board member Harold Nordhausen noted.

Nordhausen said 72,000 meals were shipped from Wauneta earlier this month. The meals were bound for Haiti or the Philippines. He added the group has another 85,000 meals to pack before summer.

Wellman explained the organization is 100 percent volunteer staffed and that all donations received by the group go directly to purchase raw food products for the meals.

The organization’s small administrative fees (utilities, hair nets, soap, etc.) are purchased with funds raised at fundraisers such as their annual December bake sale.


About Orphan Grain Train

Orphan Grain Train shipped nearly 3.5 million meals worldwide last fiscal year. The meals helped feed children and families in the United States, Moldova, Haiti, the Philippines, Nicaragua, Liberia and several other countries.

According to Suzanne Leffers at Orphan Grain Train, the Mercy Meals shipped by Orphan Grain Train are used in feeding programs, orphanages and schools in third world countries where the meals may be the only meal many children and families eat that day.

The cost to ship meals is roughly $15 per 500 meals. Leffers said Orphan Grain Train uses monetary donations to pay for shipping.


About Mercy Meals

Mercy Meals was originally started by Edie Noffke, a night nurse at the hospital in Norfolk, Neb. who wanted to do something for the worldwide community in her spare time.

The organization’s hope is to instill a sense of self-empowerment, civic duty, world awareness, kindness towards fellow men and women and an appreciation for the blessings in their daily lives for the people who receive the meals.

Mercy Meals of Southwest Nebraska board members include Pastor Keith Wellman, Kent and Elaine Haarberg, Janet Keiser, Harold Nordhausen, Annette Long, Mary Haarberg, Laurie Kerchal, Jan Coone, Pastor David McCarthy and Page Johnston.


Volunteer or contribute

Individuals who wish to make an online donation or sign up to pack meals may do so at or contact any board member. Information about the group is also available on Facebook at

Those who would like to contribute financially to the cause may send contributions to Mercy Meals of Southwest Nebraska, P.O. Box 474, Wauneta, NE 69045.