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Feeding the hungry in region’s communities: SPPS students help put together 600 soup mix bags

Homestead Ministries co-founder Greg Nolan helps Sts. Peter and Paul students (L-R) Hunter Schoo, Lexie Holcomb and Rachel Chmelik learn to use the hot-sealing machines.

Photo by Lorie Palmer
Homestead Ministries co-founder Greg Nolan helps Sts. Peter and Paul students (L-R) Hunter Schoo, Lexie Holcomb and Rachel Chmelik learn to use the hot-sealing machines.

“And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones who is my disciple, truly I tell you, that person will certainly not lose their reward.” ~ Matthew 10:42, NIV.


GRANGEVILLE – Students at Sts. Peter and Paul Catholic School were busy “giving out cups of water” so to speak, Thursday, April 9. In fact, the students will end up helping give out about 600 cups of water – in the form of soup mix.

With the help of Homestead Ministries out of Colfax, Wash., the entire student body packaged 200 bags of lentil soup mix, 200 bags of kidney bean chili mix and 200 bags of split pea soup mix.

“All this will go to the local food banks,” said Tom Reidner. He and friend, Greg Nolan, founded Homestead Ministries. Though they each work full-time, they take vacation days and work with schools, churches and other organizations to package soup mix.

Homestead Ministries is a non-denominational faith-based volunteer organization that supports local agriculture and is dedicated to finding solutions to reduce hunger locally and regionally. Their pamphlet states, “Our desire is to help people feed their families by providing delicious, nutritious protein-based product.”

“This is fun,” said student Ruby Young.

“And the spices smell good,” added friend Sienna Wagner.

Reidner and Nolan have the process down to a science and set up assembly lines for children to pick up a small bag and go through the line while other students add the correct amount of chili pepper, onions, garlic and other spices. These are then carried to another table where they are hot sealed by other students. The same process is followed with the labeling of packages and the beans, down to packing 40 bags of soup mix in a box.

“Could we do this faster without a wide range of kids helping?” smiled Reidner. “Sure.”

“But then they wouldn’t be involved in the process of helping and giving back to their communities,” added Nolan. “This way, they have a real investment in it.”

The duo said statistics show that one in every five children in the Northwest goes to bed hungry at night and that 34 percent of kids in the Northwest and 21 percent of the elderly struggle with hunger issues.

“Homestead Ministries and our partners are working toward reducing these issues,” the men said.

Those who wish to help with the non-profit can donate commodities such as peas, garbanzos, wheat or barley. Money is also needed to help purchase spices, packing supplies and provide transportation. Volunteers are also sought to help build soup mixes.

“We like to see a lot of parents come in and help with the process, too,” emphasized Reidner. “It helps to get the project completed more smoothly, but it also helps bring awareness to hunger issues.”

Aside from being made available through Camas Prairie Food Bank (CPFB) and other local food banks, the soup mixes are also sold in dollar stores and through some chain businesses with proceeds going back to Homestead Ministries.

In conjunction with the soup packaging, SPPS students also held a Crockpot drive for the CPFB and brought in seven Crockpots. These will be given out to people in need who come through the food bank doors for services.

“It’s nice to not only help out with soup, but to give some of the people a way to cook it also,” commented SPPS principal Teresa Groom.

To contact Homestead Ministries call Reidner at 208-305-6548 or Nolan at 509-553-6944; write P.O. Box 148, Colfax, WA 99111.


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