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Thursday, June 13, 2024
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Hunger on the Hill 2023 participants standing in front of Parliament in Ottawa.

External Evaluation of the Advocacy Work at Canadian Foodgrains Bank (2014-2024) 

Written by Sarah Pugh (PhD, Independent Consultant)  

A recent independent evaluation conducted in collaboration with co-evaluator Stephen van Houten found that Canadian Foodgrains Bank is widely considered a stand-out leader in hunger-related advocacy and policy work in Canada. Our evaluation, which looked at ten years of advocacy work at the Foodgrains Bank (2014-2024), found evidence of an effective and highly respected public policy department within an effective and highly respected organization.  

This evaluation was undertaken between December 2023 and May 2024. Following an inception period in December and January, the data collection took place over 33 days between February and May. Our methods included a comprehensive desk review, key informant interviews, and an online survey sent to members of the Foodgrains Bank’s Hunger Action Network, which consists of active supporters and constituents of the Foodgrains Bank. Key informant interviews were held with 34 stakeholders representing the Foodgrains Bank, other non-governmental organizations, members, donors, international partners, and Global Affairs Canada. 

Our evaluation found that the Foodgrains Bank carefully and intentionally selects the public policy and advocacy issues and positions it advances in a way that brings together, and does not divide, its diverse constituency and membership. The advocacy efforts of the Foodgrains Bank are often undertaken in collaboration with other organizations and partners, especially through its highly valued work on various coalitions such as the Food Security Policy Group and the Canadian Coalition on Climate Change and Development. While this can make it difficult at times to attribute changes directly to the work of the Foodgrains Bank, we found that the Foodgrains Bank has made many documented and often significant advocacy contributions across a range of thematic areas. Some of the main achievements and contributions highlighted in the evaluation are in the thematic areas of humanitarian/food assistance, climate change, agriculture and food systems, conservation agriculture in East Africa, COVID-19 and food security, and official development assistance.  

Among other factors, this work is bolstered by the policy expertise within the Foodgrains Bank, the strong reputation of the public policy department and the wider organization, and the strength of its constituency, members, and networks. The organization’s rich experience in policy and advocacy work has also helped the organization to foster strong relationships built on trust and respect, including with other actors in the sector and within political and non-political sides of government. External stakeholders noted with appreciation the contributions of the Foodgrains Bank’s advocacy work in supporting the development sector as a whole in Canada.  

Our evaluation showed the Foodgrains Bank effectively uses a wide range of strategies and approaches, including direct and non-partisan advocacy, research, media advocacy, and working with member houses. Members of the public are engaged through, for example, postcard and letter campaigns, Parliament Hill days, speaking events and more. In recent years, public policy and advocacy components have been integrated into international projects such as Scaling Up Conservation Agriculture (SUCA) and Nature+, helping to create and strengthen bridges between the work of public policy and the international program department.  

With continued support, there can be little doubt that a strong and capacitated public policy department at the Foodgrains Bank will continue to be an influential and respected actor in the Canadian humanitarian and development landscape. 

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