Feed My Starving Children founder Richard Proudfit dies at 88
Richard Proudfit founded Feed My Starving Children (FMSC) back in 1987 after witnessing widespread starvation on a mission trip to Honduras. He said he heard God's call to help, and had no choice.
Author: KARE Staff
Published: 9:39 AM CST November 14, 2018
Updated: 4:23 PM CST November 14, 2018
COON RAPIDS, Minn. - The Minnesota man whose dream helped feed the world has passed away at the age of 88.
Richard Proudfit founded Feed My Starving Children (FMSC) back in 1987 after witnessing widespread starvation on a mission trip to Honduras. He said he heard God's call to help, and had no choice. “If you’ve seen my starving children, go and feed them,” were the words Proudfit heard. It was a call that would become both the name and the mission of Feed My Starving Children.
Proudfit served as CEO of FMSC from 1987 to 1998. The non-profit worked with nutritionists from Minnesota-based General Mills and Cargill to develop a food formula that would provide all the nutritional requirements for malnourished children and adults, while also being easy to package and prepare. The recipe is one that many volunteers have followed: Last year alone more than a half-million volunteers packed more than 333 million meals.
In 2017, FMSC made history when volunteers packed and shipped the two billionth meal.
“Richard Proudfit left behind a simply amazing legacy," Executive Director/CEO Mark Crea said in a statement on the FMSC website. "He planted the seeds for thousands upon thousands of children to be fed when he answered God’s call to ‘Feed my starving children.’ We are honored to continue following this call 31 years later.”
Feed My Starving Children (FMSC) is a Christian nonprofit dedicated to providing nutritious meals to children worldwide. FMSC meals are hand-packed by volunteers and sent to an incredible network of partner organizations who distribute them to those in need. More than 1.2 million volunteers packed more than 333 million FMSC meals in 2017. More than 90 percent of total donations go directly to feed kids.
Feed My Starving Children founder Richard Proudfit dies at 88
Feed My Starving Children founder Richard Proudfit in 2012.
By Liz Sawyer Star Tribune
November 13, 2018 — 10:07pm
It was a devastating hurricane in Honduras that first sparked Richard Proudfit’s war on hunger.
The engineer-turned-entrepreneur traveled to Central America as part of Hurricane Fifi’s medical relief team in 1974 to help repair the country’s infrastructure. Witnessing the survivors’ misery altered his life’s mission.
“I saw thousands of children dying all around me,” Proudfit later recalled. “I couldn’t handle it. I had to do something when I got back to Minnesota.”
Thirteen years later, he founded Feed My Starving Children, a Christian-based nonprofit that packages nutritious meals for millions of malnourished children around the world. That operation — and eventually his second nonprofit, Kids Against Hunger — delivered a combined 1 billion meals a year.
The Twin Cities philanthropist whose battle against hunger took him to war zones across the globe where he risked his life to bring food to the starving, died Tuesday at age 88.
“He planted the seeds for thousands upon thousands of children to be fed when he answered God’s call to ‘Feed my starving children,’ ” said current CEO Mark Crea. “We are honored to continue following this call 31 years later.”
Proudfit’s mission first launched in 1987, when he assembled scientists from General Mills, Cargill and other companies to create a food product that provided all the nutritional requirements to sustain the famished. The group settled on a winning formula: a mix of rice, soy, dehydrated vegetables and chicken flavoring — plus vitamins and minerals — that is still used today.
And so the Coon Rapids-based Feed My Starving Children was born. But with the United Nations reporting more than 800 million people in a state of chronic hunger, Proudfit wanted to spread that packaging model across the nation to feed even more. So in 1999, he left his first organization to create Kids Against Hunger.
During that time, Proudfit didn’t simply package the food and ship it off with hopes that it would reach the needy. He traveled to dozens of countries in Africa, Asia and South America to track down missionaries and relief groups that had the means to get those foodstuffs “out of the port, across near impassable roads, past corrupt government officials, and into the mouths of those who are most often overlooked and ignored in their societies,” according to his Kids Against Hunger online biography.
“His tireless relationship building resulted in a worldwide network of organizations that can successfully distribute the food under the worst of conditions.”
Back in the United States, he oversaw development of 100 satellite programs that package meals for distribution by the U.S. Navy, global relief groups and more.
But it’s no longer just starving people in developing countries using the packaged food. In recent years, Proudfit sent his meals to U.S. food shelves, natural disaster areas and some Indian reservations.
In 2012, Proudfit joined the ranks of Microsoft founder Bill Gates, actor Paul Newman and former First Lady Rosalynn Carter in receiving the Jefferson Award for public service. Then 82, the St. Paul native received a gold medallion at the White House before returning to his modest office in New Hope, where a poster of a young Honduran boy with sad brown eyes served as a constant reminder about his mission.
Whenever he was asked about retirement, those who knew him best say his response was always the same: “I can’t. My children are dying.”
Staff writer Jean Hopfensperger contributed to this report.
Richard Proudfit - The Man Who Started It All
richard proudfit bio3Richard was born and raised in St. Paul, Minnesota, his father a chef and restaurant owner. He attended a private boarding school where he excelled at basketball. After high school, Richard attended the Merchant Marine Academy at Kings Point majoring in engineering and business. He got his appointment to the academy by walking into the commandant’s office and refusing to leave until he was admitted, thus beginning his life-long habit of never taking ‘no’ for an answer. He completed his service in the merchant marine sailing around the world on cargo ships, a time he still remembers fondly as a great adventure.