Jeff Krasean part of effort to ship food to feed children of the Philippine Islands
As Typhoon Haiyan slammed into the Philippines last weekend, most Americans could only watch the devastation unfold from afar and feel for those in the wake of the storm.
But for Jeff Krasean, of Forest Lake, the story unfolding on his TV was much more. It was personal.
Krasean has spent the past seven years on a personal mission trying to make life better for kids throughout the Philippines. The death toll could rise into the thousands as many villages were wiped away by the 170 mph winds and rapidly rising water levels that swept away homes and buildings with the force of a tsunami.
Krasean was busy late in the weekend and on Monday communicating by email with contacts in the Republic of the Philippines, an island nation of more than 98 million people. The storm’s bulls eye was on the city of Tacloban, the provincial capital of the island of Leyte, some 360 miles south of the nation’s capital, Manila.
It was in this city of 200,000 where significant damage was reported and thousands of death appear likely, Krasean said on Monday.
Krasean knows one thing for sure: The typhoon will most certainly make life even more miserable for the many poor that call the Philippines home, he said.
A nation in need
Even more now, Krasean said, the Philippines is a nation in need.
It was something that Krasean learned early on in his personal mission to help the downtrodden and in particular, the children. Help will be needed even more now, he said.
It was in the fall of 2006 when Krasean began his efforts with assistance from Forest Hills United Methodist Church to help the population in need. He made three trips to the Philippines in 2007, 2009 and 2010.
He is serving others on his own through his contacts with the Filipino-American Christian Church in Mounds View and a partnership with the Coon Rapids office of Feed My Starving Children, a nonprofit Christian organization committed to feeding hand-packed meals specifically formulated for malnourished children in nearly 70 countries around the world.
Twice a year – each fall and in the spring – Krasean and his contacts team to send five tons of food to 40 villages and 51 church feeding stations. More than 4,000 children are provided nourishing meals three times a week.
“It’s a feast to them,” Krasean said of the food pouches that are delivered to the feeding stations. While three meals are provided to children each week, the program also counts on local food resources to be tapped to fill the void.
The sealed pouches are shipped to the islands and delivered through a network of volunteers that includes pastors and village leaders. Each pouch contains a mixture of rice, soy and vegetable chips with chicken flavoring. The pouch is mixed with six cups of water and boiled for purification. Six cups of rice result.
It costs roughly $90 to ship each box that contains 212 pouches.
Food is just one objective of the program, Krasean said. The feeding stations also provide “sanctuary” for the kids to find a better life. Parents with newborns and children up to age 13 flock to the stations for nourishment and to escape the exploitation of kids that is common, he said.
After the devastation of the storm last weekend, Krasean believes the need will expand.
The area served by Krasean’s partnership has no presence in Leyte but does serve children in the island of Cebu, south and west of Tacloban and on Palawan where an orphanage receives food. Although the feeding stations may not have taken direct hits, they certainly experienced high winds and torrential rains.
One of two fall deliveries has arrived in the Philippines, Krasean said, and a third from Feed Our Starving Children is also on the way.
Krasean became active in his effort after reading about the deplorable conditions that exist for the poor in the Philippines. He also has close Filipino friends and feels a connection to helping.
“There was a need for some help,” he said.
He saw the conditions on his first trip and continues to do what he can to help. In addition to food, Krasean worked with CTI of St. Paul that produced a dozen manual feed grinders that were donated to sites in the Philippines. The grinders sell for $300 each. They allow operators to grind corn, peanuts and other agriculture products to supplement the reliance on fishing.
“Many of the villages are by the ocean,” Krasean said. “If they don’t catch fish, they don’t eat.”
The typhoon is the latest natural disaster to hit the Philippines. A 7.2 magnitude earthquake recently rocked the region and volcanic eruptions and the frequent typhoons from have caused problems.
According to NBC News, the typhoon affected 9.5 million people with more than 600,000 islanders displaced. International relief agencies are springing into action.
The American Red Cross, UNICEF, Catholic Charities and the United Nations world food program were among the many now active in providing help and seeking public donations to carry on their work.
As for Krasean, he will continue to watch the news, communicate with his contacts in the Philippines and pray for the best for his friends in harm’s way.