The Shelton “Community” Challenge ~ Feeding the Hungry

The Shelton “Community” Challenge ~ Providing High Quality Protein for The Saints’ Pantry as They Care for Families & Individuals in Need & Hungry.

This video conveys the heart of Pastor Steve Willis in reaching out to the homeless and hungry in his community alongside ViSalus, the manufacturer of the Vi-Shape Nutritional Mix that is packed with high quality protein.  High quality protein is lacking in the food banks across our nation.  Here in Mason County, The Saints’ Pantry is an approved recipient of this high quality protein.  Saint Davhatid’s is a strong supporter of The Saints’ Pantry.  To donate $24 for one 60 child sized meals for the backpack program (ViSalus matches that donation and sends the Vi-Shakes pouch directly to the food bank which provides for the backpack program…free shipping.).  Every donation makes a significant difference in the lives of the most needy here in Mason County.  Visit

The Saints’ Pantry, has been feeding the hungry for 30 years.  With the Vi-Shape Nutritional Mix, The Saints’ Pantry will be able to  reach out to our homeless children & students  through the backpack program.  Your assistance and donation will be greatly appreciated and a huge blessing.  As you bless, you will be blessed!

Pastor Steve Willis, Huntington, WV shares what is happening in his community
to leave a greater impact as they feed the hungry.

Pastor Steve Willis is the Author of the book, “Winning the Food Fight, Victory in the Physical and Spiritual Battle for Good Food and a Healthy Lifestyle.”  You can find his book @, and

"Winning the Food Fight, Victory in the Physical & Spiritual Battle..."

“Winning the Food Fight, Victory in the Physical & Spiritual Battle…” 12 Chapters…Perfect for a 12 week Bible Study or Book Review

From Pastor Steve’s Book…his reflections on aligning with ViSalus. Chapter 8, pages 134-138.

“Another aspect of our village coming together may surprise you.  After doing the New York publicity tour and being on Jamie’s show (The Food Revolution with Jamie Oliver), I received over 200 emails, phone calls and letters from various companies wanting me to endorse their products.  We had so many calls to the church, my secretary asked for extra help in the front office! I had offers for everything from healthy coffees and frozen produce to organic chocolate and natural sugar.  I even had a chiropractor offer me a one-year lease on a BMW if I’d be in one of his commercials. I thought, ‘Some of those TV evangelists might get away with this, but that wouldn’t fly in West Virgina!’

I won’t mislead you, I talked to a number of companies; but even though some of them had interesting products and made generous offers for my family, I couldn’t see how being involved with any of them would benefit our church. I’ve seen too many pastors ruin their credibility by chasing after a dollar, so I decided to walk away from everything.

But that’s when a friend introduced me to a company in California whose CEO has family ties to our area.  This CEO, Ryan Blair, had seen us on ABC. because of his personal connection to Huntington, he wanted to help us however he could.  His multimillion dollar company, ViSalus Sciences, distributes nutrient- and protein-rich meal replacement shakes, vitamins, and a herb-based energy drink. “I still feel connected to Huntington,” he told me when we first spoke.  “If we can do something to help kids get the nutrition they need, you let me know.” I was waiting for the sales pitch or the catch, but there wasn’t one.  He didn’t ask me to endorse the company or be in any commercials. He just wanted to help because he had once been a kid on a school lunch program, and he could remember not being able to get decent nutrition when he was a child4.  He was offering us hundreds of their shakes that are loaded with vitamins and contain almost no sugars or simple carbohydrates.

Granted, I’m not a nutritionist, and to a certain extent it sounded too good to be true. However, I was intrigued enough to check out ViSalus Sciences’ website to see what they were about. I was pleased to see that helping children was not something new for Ryan Blair. While on a trip to Kingston, Jamaica, he had witnessed malnourished youngsters who were suffering because of the nation’s drug-related crime and other social  problems. “I thought, there’s got to be a way economically that we can create a sustained impact and not just be charitable and distribute our gains,” Ryan says, “We are a community, and we formed a mission to give meal replacements to kids who can’t afford to have the right nutrients in their diets. In some cases, they can’t even afford to put on weight. In each community where we launch ViSalus, we look to set up ties to charities, churches and organizations to distribute meals so our distributors can make an impact alongside the company.

Although skeptics would point to Blair’s status as a rich entrepreneur and scoff, “It’s all about money,” for him it goes deeper. After his father abandoned them when Ryan was 13 years old, he and his mother moved into a low-income housing development north of Los Angeles.  Although his mother worked seven days a week, her modest salary meant they had to subsist on macaroni and cheese and other fatty government commodities.  At his peak, Ryan (who weights around 190 today) ballooned to 260 pounds.  Besides being sensitive to those who can’t afford to eat better, he has a heart for at-risk youngsters who are facing the kind of circumstances he did as a teen.  He knows what it is like to be labeled as “dysfunctional” or “suffering from ADD” (attention deficit disorder) just because a child is suffering from a lack of proper nutrition.

“Having been poor and eaten poor, now I love quality food,” Ryan says, “I love eating correctly. I believe in a balanced approach and enjoying food.  I enjoy food, but I also believe in exercise and vitamin supplements.  If you have a combination of all those, you can have a life you enjoy better.”

As I learned more about Ryan’s ideas for a community partnership, it made sense for us to connect to his initiative.  Ryan flew to West Virginia to help launch our area’s first 90-day challenge at First Baptist of Kenova.  He also presented our church with a check for $12,000- enough to purchase 30,000 child-size shakes (the check was symbolic; the company later shipped us the shake packets). Since that time, ViSalus distributors have donated over $30,000 worth of product for our local and international ministries.  We continue to work with local food pantries to provide low-income families with healthier foods, but we also understand that many of the commodities they receive from the government do not give them the nutrients they need.  Institutions like these, diets must be supplemented with vitamins and fiber, or the children from these families will not develop the way God intended.

I share the ViSalus story for three reasons.  First, the company’s executives have taught me that if you tie financial or other material benefits to physical health, people respond. Each year, ViSalus rewards a cruise to the distributors who have had the biggest health turnarounds.  In addition, employees have a built-in economic incentive: If they can’t demonstrate that their product has helped them slim down, they can’t expect others to try it.  The lack of perceived economic incentive is a major contributor to the problem we have with the types of foods we eat-people are convinced that eating junk saves them money.  They believe that something off the dollar menu will fill them up, so they take the cheapest option. Fruits and vegetables cost more than a bag of chips, so guess what they give their kids for a snack? That’s right: diabetes in a bag.

To change our communities, we have to communicate to the masses that eating poorly does NOT save you much money, and it will also cost you thousands of dollars in the future.  Poor nutrition in adults leads to poor performance at work. If you don’t produce at work, you likely won’t get a bonus, a raise or a promotion.  When kids don’t eat well, it affects their ability to learn- which, over time, will affect their ability to get a good job and earn a decent wage.  Simply stated, they will not be all they can be if they don’t eat like they’re supposed to eat.

In addition, eating poorly costs money in medical bills, prescriptions visits to the doctor…do you see my point? It’s “pay me now or pay me later.” We either put our financial support behind our bodies now (through good nutrition), or we’ll pay 10 times that amount later due to increased medical costs. The choice is ours.

The second reason I share this story is that I believe there are hundreds of Ryan Blair’s out there. If you tell the businesses in your community that you are doing something to improve the health of the children in their own backyard, many of them will respond. Go in to them with a plan, present the need, and ask for help. The worst they can do is tell you no- and my personal experience has been that most people want to help, they just don’t know how to help.

Finally, as I mentioned earlier, I believe it is important to supplement your diet with vitamins, especially if you are unable to purchase large amounts of organic produce. The reality of our nation’s current food system is that even when we eat our meats, grains, fruits and vegetables, because of the way the food is produced, those items do not supply all the vitamins and minerals our bodies need for proper development.  My wife is somewhat of a purist when it comes to whole foods and nutrition, but no matter how we altered our youngest son’s diet, he still struggled mightily with ADHD. Without question, removing sugary drinks and cutting out junk food made him better, but Lucas still struggled.  We refused to put him on mind-altering medications, but apparently diet alone wasn’t going to take care of the problem.

One day I was sharing our situation with a ViSalus National Director and a Huntington resident.  He suggested I give my son some of their Omega-3 supplements.  We didn’t see an overnight change, but now that Lucas has been on the Omega-3’s for a while, my wife swears by them.  He is a different child. I wonder how many children in your community would have their lives changed if they just had the nutrition they need.  This is why our school lunch programs are so important, and why we, as community leaders, need to be aware of what’s happening locally and support healthy nutrition in our schools.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s