About Canadian Foodgrains Bank
An international partnership to end hunger
Canadian Foodgrains Bank is a partnership of 15 Canadian churches and church-based agencies working together to end global hunger. We work with locally-based organizations in developing countries to meet emergency food needs, achieve long-term solutions to hunger and work to foster informed action by Canadians and governments to support this international cause.
The history of Canadian Foodgrains Bank
Since 1983, our members, supporters and project partners have been devoted to our mission to end world hunger—but the story starts long before that. It begins in the mid-1970s when Canadian farmers were looking for a way to share their abundance with people facing hunger around the world.
From these rural roots , our network now provides emergency food assistance and long-term development support in over 30 countries annually through over 100 international partners.
During a time of famine in Bangladesh, farmers in western Canada are enjoying bumper crops. They want to share their excess food with people who are hungry, but government policies at the time do not make this easy. They call on Mennonite Central Committee Canada to find a way, who propose the creation of a food bank that can receive grain from Canadian farmers.
The MCC Food Bank is created. It is based on the “Joseph principle” from the Old Testament—storing up grain in good years for use in bad times. The Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), now Global Affairs Canada, agrees to provide matching funds, a partnership that continues to this day.
After issuing its first appeal for grain in 1976 to farmers in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta, the first shipment of 660 tonnes of grain is sent to India. Two years later, the Canadian Wheat Board partners with the Food Bank to facilitate the handling and shipping of grain, a partnership that lasts until the Board is dissolved in 2015.
With encouragement from the Government of Canada, MCC invites other churches to join, and Canadian Foodgrains Bank is born. The first members represent Mennonite, Baptist, Lutheran, Christian Reformed, and Christian and Missionary Alliance churches in Canada. Foodgrains Bank member churches respond to famine in Ethiopia the next year, marking the network’s first major response to global hunger.
Membership of the Foodgrains Bank reaches 15, becoming the largest Canadian ecumenical organization and representing most of the main Christian denominations in Canada. Adventist, Catholic, Pentecostal, Evangelical Missionary, Nazarene, Presbyterian, Anglican, Salvation Army, United and Evangelical Fellowship churches are now also represented.
Following advocacy efforts led by the Foodgrains Bank, the Canadian government no longer requires food for aid overseas to be purchased in Canada. This allows the Foodgrains Bank to use all funds provided by the government to buy food in developing countries. This policy change saves money, time and provides support for farmers in developing countries. Grain donated by farmers in Canada is sold in the Canadian market and the proceeds are used to purchase food closer to the area of need.
The Foodgrains Bank provides over $1 billion of assistance for tens of millions of people in over 70 countries. Canadians from all walks of life—rural, urban, farmers, non-farmers—join these collective efforts to end global hunger.
The principles behind our partnership
Frequently asked questions
- Can I get a tax receipt?
Charitable tax receipts are issued for donations $10 and over.
- Are donations to the Foodgrains Bank still matched 4:1 by the Canadian government?
Through its ongoing grant agreement with the Government of Canada, donations to the Foodgrains Bank used for food assistance projects are eligible for a 4:1 match, up to $25 million a year. Foodgrains Bank also enters into other grant agreements with the Government of Canada that often match donations on a 3:1 basis.
- How do you know the food actually gets to the people who need it?
Canadian Foodgrains Bank members work with trusted partners overseas to make sure food goes where it is intended. Our assistance is carefully and closely monitored, and Foodgrains Bank staff and volunteers regularly visit project sites to conduct audits and do other monitoring.
In spite of some very challenging logistics in foreign ground transportation and distribution, together with civil unrest or war, we know that more than 95% of food gets to where it is needed.
- What are community growing projects?
A community growing project usually involves a group of people (farmers, fuel dealers, equipment dealers, local small businesses, grain elevator staff, church congregations) gathering together to farm a plot of land. When they harvest their crop, they sell it on the Canadian market and donate the proceeds to the Foodgrains Bank.
There are over 200 growing projects across Canada. These projects contribute approximately half of the donations received by the Foodgrains Bank.