Big Smiles, Full Stomachs

There’s nothing better than seeing the smiling face of a happy, well-fed child…and it’s even better when you know God worked through caring Catholics to make it happen.

Last week, I photographed a distribution of Vitafood to children at an orphanage in Haiti. What is Vitafood? Vitafood is the generic name for all Cross Catholic meal-packs scientifically designed to meet the needs of the most severely malnourished around the world. Though we receive Vitafood from different sources, each brand has key vitamins and nutrients to energize, strengthen, and restore malnourished bodies back to health.

Most of these children were orphaned or abandoned, and others were left there temporarily by their extremely poor parents who could no longer feed them. Luckily the orphanage was able to take them in—but the orphanage wouldn’t be able to nourish them each day without food from Cross Catholic.

First the young children filed into the room. Well, they didn’t file in; they ran in! They were so excited about the hot bowls of Vitafood, mixed with local vegetables and spices, sitting on the table. I was impressed by the children’s manners as they took their seats—no one ate a single bite until the adults told them it was time to eat.

“There’s nothing better than seeing the smiling face of a happy, well-fed child.”

“There’s nothing better than seeing the smiling face of a happy, well-fed child.”

When they got the go-ahead, their manners began to disappear as fast as the Vitafood! Big bites, smiles with food in their mouths, messy hands, and loud yells across the table ensued, but to me it was all pure evidence of a successful mealtime for happy kids.

Once the younger children finished, the older children arrived and sat down. Though more serious than their kindergarten-age counterparts, they seemed equally satisfied with the taste and quantity of the Vitafood. I witnessed big smiles, earnest prayers, and loud laughter around the table. Cross Catholic President Jim Cavnar even got in on the action and served children their meals!

It was humbling to see how thrilled the children were about an everyday meal. They were more excited to receive a hot bowl of rice and vegetables than I am when I sit down to a fancy meal at a nice restaurant. Their gratefulness for such a simple meal provided a healthy dose of reality and reminded me how truly blessed I am. Thanks to all the generous Catholics who’ve helped Cross Catholic ship Vitafood to Haiti and around the world—I know firsthand you’ve put smiles on children’s faces with every gift!

-Stephanie J.