Jamestown's Orphan Grain Train prepares meals for Liberia

Volunteers from Trinity Bible College and Graduate School in Ellendale help prepare meals for shipment to Liberia.

orphan grain train
Volunteers from Trinity Bible College and Graduate School help pack mercy meals destined for Liberia at Orphan Grain Train in Jamestown Wednesday, March 24, 2021. Keith Norman / The Sun

It takes a lot of hands to pack 12,000 meals in an afternoon, according to Andrea Eckstein, manager of the Mercy Meals Program for the Orphan Grain Train in Jamestown.

Those hands came from about 30 students from Trinity Bible College and Graduate School in Ellendale Wednesday.

"This is part of our 'go trip,'" said Samuel Maruszewski, who is originally from Hawaii and is a senior at Trinity Bible. "This is our school's mission trip."

Trinity Bible College had reached out to Jamestown First Assembly for a project which the Rev. Shawn Hirt, youth minister at the church, helped provide.

"When Trinity approached us to do something in the community, I couldn't think of a better opportunity than the Orphan Grain Trains," Hirt said.


The students pitched in taking the bulk materials such as rice and seasoning and packaged them into single-serving meals to be shipped to students in Liberia, Eckstein said. Each student had a task that might include measuring rice or other ingredients, weighing the packages and sealing the package before the bags of food were packed in boxes for shipment.

"With an assembly line, it goes quickly," she said "The meals are fortified so they provide good nutrition for the students."

Wednesday's goal was to pack 12,000 meals. Those meals will be combined with others and packed in a shipping container for delivery to Liberia at the end of April.

Orphan Grain Train is a regional nonprofit Christian volunteer network that shares personal and material resources with people in need in America and around the world. It has offices around the Upper Midwest but Jamestown is the only operation center in North Dakota.

The organization began operations in 1991 and has distributed 3,728 semi-trailer truckloads of food, clothing, medical supplies and religious materials to 69 countries and several disaster areas in the U.S. since 1992, according to its website.

The meals prepared Wednesday for shipment won't be the first meals sent to Liberia in the past year.

In July 2020, Orphan Grain Train shipped more than 140,000 meals to Liberia in a shipment that also included items for use in schools and churches in the African country. They have also made shipments of clothing and hygiene items to the Republic of Georgia in the last year.

For their effort, the Trinity Bible College students were provided a "pizza bash" at First Assembly Church Wednesday evening before their return to Ellendale.

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