ARE YOU READY? We are excited to have our second community event that will help Feed the Need and put 60,000 meals on Treasure Valley tables!

We will once again partner with Homestead Ministries of Colfax WA, and the Boise Rescue Mission to package 60,000 (or more!) meals to be distributed to those in need throughout the Treasure Valley.

Homestead Ministries purchases or procures donations of locally grown grains such as beans, peas, lentils, wheat, and barley from farmers and processors, along with spices, bags, and labels. These items will be brought to the school on Friday, February 10th. Stations will be set up in the gym and teams of students will come throughout the day to mix 10,000 1 lb. soup packages – enough to equal 60,000 meals.

Homestead Ministries began in August 2014 when friends Tom Riedner and Greg Nolan saw an opportunity to help reduce the hunger problem in the Northwest. Their desire is to use locally produced agricultural products to feed the hungry efficiently and generously using Christian values. Most people do not realize grains have different grades. Homestead purchases (in some cases grains are donated) these rich resources that do not make the exceptional grade for the marketplace but that are equal in nutritional value from the processors at reduced prices. A soup mix recipe is then created with the appropriate spices, and all the supplies are brought to volunteer groups for assembly. This process has provided thousands of meals that are distributed through local shelters, churches, and food banks.

According to Tom Riedner, “At Homestead Ministries we try to plant a seed for compassion. We have one mission that stands out from our other goals and that is to spread Christ’s Love and Understanding, one soup packet at a time. By developing a soup recipe using locally grown commodities and distributing the product to the hungry across the Pacific Northwest, we feel Homestead Ministries is doing just that. Our desire is to help people feed their families by providing a delicious, nutritious protein-based product to improve their lives. Our intent is to feed all that are hungry so nobody is turned away.”

Boise Rescue Mission will be one recipient of the finished soup mixes, which they will use both in food boxes for families, and daily meals at their four area shelters. “We sincerely appreciate Homestead Ministries and The Ambrose School of Meridian for making this generous gift of much needed food. As we continue to serve over 1,100 meals each day and provide over 400 safe nights of shelter daily, this gift insures that the mission will continue to meet the needs of homeless and hungry people,” says Jason Billester of Boise Rescue Mission.

Kirk Vander Leest, Headmaster of The Ambrose School says, “Part of what makes this program so successful is the volunteer manpower – or kidpower, as the case may be. Although monetary donations are always vitally important to any charitable organization, we as a school are able to provide 500 willing and able students in one location to produce a huge amount of food in less than six hours. This is not only extremely efficient, but a great opportunity for our kids to serve others in their own backyard.”

7.3 percent of Idaho’s residents are food insecure — 274,230 people or 1 in 6. More than 23 percent of Idaho’s children are food insecure — 96,090 children or 1 in 4. Of the 274,230 food-insecure people, about 120,429 have incomes that make them eligible for food stamps. Around 56,200 have incomes which make them eligible for WIC and reduced-price school meals, but not food stamps.The other 90,991 have incomes which make them ineligible for public assistance, according to the Idaho Foodbank. These people rely on private charities, such as a church food pantry or the Idaho Foodbank. (source: Idaho Foodbank)


After partnering with Homestead Ministries and the Boise Rescue Mission to help those in need throughout the Treasure Valley, we set a goal to provide 10,000 bags of soup mix to be distributed to the community. So on September 25th, 2015, we started at about 8:30 am with our kindergarten students who jumped right into the task at hand. We kept a tally on our gym scoreboard and watched the numbers creep up as Greg Nolan of Homestead Ministries announced totals and updated the board. There were tables of students madly sticking labels onto the bags, and a merry-go-round of workers assembling the spice packets – a different combination for each type of soup. Then there were the tables where workers had an assembly line – drop in the spice packet, scoop the appropriate amount of beans, pour into the bag, then take it to the sealers. The sealers then laid the bags across the machine, pressed it, and handed the bag back to be packed into the boxes.

Students in their red Feed the Need t-shirts took shifts throughout the day, and by the time the upper school students took over, boxes full of 3-bean, lentil, and split pea soup packages were stacking up on the side of the gym, ready to be hauled off by the Boise Rescue Mission and other churches and food banks.

Homestead Ministries are experts at setting up an efficient production process, providing all the equipment and materials plus the beans, lentils, and peas. The process was simple, and the students thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to serve. By 2:00 pm, we had 8,000 bags packaged and ready!

We weren’t the only ones excited about this event – we were honored to have First Lady Lori Otter, state senator Chuck Winder, and Deputy Chief Tracy Basterrechea join students at the workstations to help fill some bags! We also had visits from Eagle mayor Jim Reynolds and Ken Corder from the City of Meridian, along with representatives from the local media. We invited 94.1 KBXL to do a live broadcast from the school, and invited anyone in need of food to come by.

In the evening, families came to take a shift at the tables to help us reach our goal of 10,000 bags. Supplies started running low, and we held our breath as the final count neared. But then it was announced – we had packaged 10,500 bags!!


We celebrated with hot dogs, bounce houses, and fellowship that evening, and then formed a bucket brigade-style line to load the majority of boxes into the Boise Rescue Mission truck. Here’s how the soup mixes were distributed:

300 bags: Hope Lutheran Church Pantry
200 bags: Donnelly Food Pantry
500 bags: McCall Food Pantry
1,000 bags: Meridian Food Bank
3,000 bags: Vineyard – Feeding God’s Children Ministry
5,500 bags: Boise Rescue Mission


Learn more about Homestead Ministries.

Photos from Feed the Need 2015: