On February 6, 2020, Canadian Foodgrains Bank’s executive director Jim Cornelius accepted the Canadian Council for International Cooperation and World University Service of Canada’s Lewis Perinbam Innovation and Impact Award in Ottawa during a reception honouring International Development Week.
Canadian Foodgrains Bank’s executive director Jim Cornelius has won the Lewis Perinbam Innovation and Impact Award for his work to help end global hunger.
The award is presented to an individual and an organization each year by the Canadian Council for International Cooperation (CCIC) and the World University Service of Canada (WUSC), in collaboration with the trustees of the Lewis Perinbam Award. Cornelius has won the individual’s award for his work.
Jim’s work demonstrates that Canadians are uniquely positioned in imagining new innovative and hopeful approaches to the wicked challenges that the world is facing.
According to their website, CCIC defines an innovative practice as “a new or more impactful means of, or approach to, addressing development challenges and improving the lives of the world’s most vulnerable.”
“Jim’s work demonstrates that Canadians are uniquely positioned in imagining new innovative and hopeful approaches to the wicked challenges that the world is facing,” says Jean-Marc Mangin, Chair of the Trustees of the Lewis Perinbam Award.
Throughout his 22 years as executive director, Cornelius has led various innovative approaches to the Foodgrains Bank’s work of ending global hunger, including efforts to improve the efficiency of Canadian food aid.
Before 2005, 90 percent of money for Canadian food aid had to be spent on Canadian farm products. The hope was to support Canadian farm prices, by buying and shipping Canadian grain overseas, while helping feed the world. Food aid had a low impact on the Canadian agricultural market, though, and shipping grain was an inefficient way to respond to hunger. It often took too long to reach those in need, shipping food was expensive, it deprived local farmers of a market, and the food shipped from Canada—usually wheat—was often not part of the local diet.
Cornelius led a successful lobbying effort of different Canadian stakeholders, including farmers and non-profit organizations, to convince the Canadian government to change the way it provides food aid. It’s been over ten years since Canada began buying most of its food aid from local sources.
“Now people whose lives have been disrupted are receiving the emergency food they need to survive more quickly and efficiently,” says Cornelius.
In addition to honouring innovative practices, the award’s selection committee looked for leaders who engage and inspire Canadians to support vulnerable communities overseas.
Under Cornelius’ leadership, thousands of rural Canadians come together each year to plant, grow and harvest a crop in support of the Foodgrains Bank. Once sold, they donate the proceeds to the organization’s work of ending global hunger.
“During a long and fruitful career, Jim has demonstrated that Canadians of good will, from all walks of life, can effectively address food security, one of the world’s most basic needs, with imagination and empathy,” says Mangin. “In particular, Jim’s leadership at Canadian Foodgrains Bank mobilized many Canadians, notably rural Canadians, in this struggle.”
Jim’s leadership…mobilized many Canadians, notably rural Canadians, in this struggle.
“I’m honoured to accept this award and to have this work recognized,” says Cornelius. “I’ve been blessed with talented colleagues and partners throughout my career, and I’m grateful these collective efforts mean more families have access to food around the world.”
Cornelius accepted the award last night in Ottawa during a reception honouring International Development Week.
– Shaylyn McMahon, Communications Coordinator
Honouring Lewis Perinbam
Lewis Perinbam, O.C, (1925-2007) was a pioneer in building the international development sector in Canada. He was the founding Executive Director of CUSO, the first full time Secretary General of the Canadian National Commission of UNESCO and the Executive Director of World University Service of Canada (WUSC). He joined a fledging Canadian International Development Agency in 1969 and became the founding director general of the NGO division. He later became the Vice-President of the Canadian Partnership Program where he launched several programs that made Canada a leader in civil society-government collaboration. He led the 2000 Task Force on the Participation of Visible Minorities in the Public Service which generated deep change throughout Government. The awards recognize his outstanding contributions and provide a reminder and a call for action that ambitious system-wide innovation is always possible.