My aid organisation pick for this week, the Canadian Foodgrains Bank, comes from the strong recommendation of a good friend. The video below describes a bit about the organisation and is a great example of the power that communities have to make a difference and support developing communities in other parts of the world.
When and how did they get started? The Canadian Foodgrains Bank, as it is known today, came out of the Mennonite Central Committee (MCC), which has a long tradition of sending food from Canada to other parts of the world with less. Officially launched in 1983, the Canadian Foodgrains Bank was able to make significant contributions to help those who experienced the 1984 famine in Ethiopia and continue to work to provide food and assistance to those who live in hunger today (History). Today, the Canadian Foodgrains Bank is a “Christian organisation that helps to provide food and development assistance to people in need on behalf of our 15 Canadian church members” ( Highlights 2010/2011).
What is their focus? Simply stated, the Canadian Foodgrains Bank’s primary vision is to see “a world without hunger” (Vision, Mission, Values). The organisation works in partnership with Canadian churches to end global hunger, not only by donating money and grain to the world’s poorest, but also by lobbying to see those public policies that keep people in poverty changed through their Food Justice Network. The Canadian Foodgrains Bank works to motivate local communities and individuals to take action to end hunger through a number of different campaigns.
Harvest of Letters is a campaign urging people to write to their local MPs about specific policies that impact global hunger. They provide tools for writing effective letters and advice for hosting awareness events and ways to meet with your MP to discuss important issues. The current letter writing campaign is asking the Canadian government to step up their commitment to do something about climate change as climate change impacts agriculture and the ability of the world’s poorest to grow food.
Ration a Meal asks people to eat a very simple meal or a typical ration meal of cereal, pulses (legumes), oil, and salt. This is an effective way to understand what it means to live in hunger. The current focus is “A Simple Meal for East Africa”.
Community Growing Projects are a great way for rural communities to rally together to grow a crop and donate the harvest to the Canadian Foodgrains Bank. Basically, a community will join to together to grow a crop ranging from wheat, corn, or barley, to soybeans, and pumpkins on a common plot of land and all take responsibility for planting, caring, and harvesting the crop. The donated crop is then used by the Canadian Foodgrains Bank for overseas food aid and agricultural development projects. It’s a fantastic way to build community while doing something to help the world’s poorest!
What can I do to get involved? As well as taking part in the actions listed above you can also join their Food Justice Network to learn more about food justice and work to change unjust policies. If you are between 18 and 25 you can also sign up for a Food Study Tour where you will travel to a developing country, such as Nicaragua, and learn more about hunger and poverty. Lastly, you can donate. The great thing about donating to the Canadian Foodgrains Bank is that they have a funding agreement with the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) that provides the Canadian Foodgrains Bank with 4:1 matching grants up to a maximum of CND $25 million a year. What a great way to see your donations go a lot further!