NEW HOPE, Minn. -- Richard Proudfit's lifetime of work to feed starving children and families has earned him a 2011 Eleven Who Care award.
"Faster, faster," cheered Richard Proudfit as volunteers from Medtronic worked a packaging assembly line. "One, two, three, bag."
Not just the founder and president of Kids Against Hunger, Richard is also its chief cheerleader.
"People enjoy the passion. It draws them to him and it draws them to the organization," said Mike Lloyd, the Executive Director of Kids Against Hunger.
Kids Against Hunger was incorporated in 1999, but Richard Proudfit has been involved with various hunger relief projects for over 30 years.
A life-changing moment
It all started back in 1974 when Richard was on a mission trip to Honduras helping in the aftermath of Hurricane Fifi.
"I was working 24 hours a day," Richard explained.
When he finally took a break, Richard had an experience that would change the course of his life.
"I looked around and saw the children for the first time," he said.
And in their eyes, he says he saw their need.
"They were dying all around me," he said. "I could not handle it."
That is the moment Richard Proudfit made ending hunger his life's work.
The recipe for success
He came back to the United States and got right to work on a food relief organization.
"What should I feed them?" Richard remembered thinking early on in the process.
He worked with some of the biggest names in the Minnesota food industry to come up with a powerful recipe that is now being used in countries around the world. It is a mix that can be prepared as a soup or hot dish, with ingredients that include rice, soy, vegetables and vitamins.
"Oh, am I excited," Richard smiled. "We were seeing miracles around the world!"
The work to meet the need
The Kids Against Hunger food packaging network consists of the organization's international headquarters in New Hope, a division in Mankato and about 80 independent non-profit food packaging satellites across the US and Canada.
In 2010, Kids Against Hunger packed meals at 90 satellites in 27 states. With help from the US military and other organizations, shipments made it to 38 countries. A total of 42-million meals were delivered to starving children and their families last year alone.
What some would call a job well done, Richard calls, "a good start".
"I'm a pusher, I'm a pusher," he chuckled. "I have to go double now."
Slowed a bit by a stroke a few years ago, Richard isn't even close to stopping his work.
"The job will be done when every child is fed," Mike Lloyd said. "Richard says he'll do this until his dying day."
"Really, we can do it. The plan is already in place," Richard explained. "If we could come together, we could feed billions. We could feed the world as a team."
(Copyright 2011 by KARE. All Rights Reserved.)