Pandemic pivot

Wednesday, September 08, 2021
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The annual Make a Difference Sale in Abbotsford was one event that shifted online, and ended up with a record-setting year. (Photo: Darren McDonald)

Despite the challenges of the pandemic, our programs around the world largely carried on, thanks to the hard work and commitment of our implementing partners.

In Lebanon

In Lebanon, local organization MERATH partnered with our member Canadian Baptist Ministries to adapt and simplify safe distribution guidance for providing food. They also provided a basic personal protective equipment (PPE) kit—including masks, hand sanitizer and surface spray—to facilitate safe distributions.

Even during lockdown periods, MERATH’s project coordinator prioritized the delivery of food vouchers (provided through our member World Renew’s project) to partner staff across project areas. These food vouchers were provided through another project, supported by our member World Renew.

Staff members and volunteers from ADRA Lebanon even did the grocery shopping on behalf of vulnerable participants through a response to the explosion in the Port of Beirut.

In Syria

In Syria, volunteers with Forum for Development, Culture and Dialogue, the local partner of our member Mennonite Central Committee Canada, delivered food baskets to elderly households instead of having them come pick up in-person from a distribution site.

In India

In India, instead of large group meetings, local Mennonite Central Committee Canada India partners Disha (an Indian partner organization whose Hindi name means finding the right path or direction) and SEBA (Social Education and Basic Awareness) provided agricultural trainings and support to savings and loans groups in very small groups or even individually. They also relied on field-based staff to help reach remote villagers.

Julia Kanyua of the National Council of Churches in Kenya provides training in poultry farming in Tharaka Nithi County, Kenya. The National Council of Churches Kenya is the local partner of our member The United Church of Canada. (Photo: Mwangi Kirubi)

In Kenya

In Kenya, with the support of our member The United Church of Canada, the National Council of Churches provided organizational support to farm families forming savings and loans groups. Through the groups, families were able to save money despite the uncertainty of the pandemic, and invest that money in new and continuing business initiatives.

Here in Canada, Foodgrains Bank supporters and staff also did their fair share of pandemic pivoting.

Foodgrains Bank supporters didn’t let the pandemic stop them from making a difference for people facing hunger around the world. 224 growing projects across the country seeded crops for the Foodgrains Bank in 2020-21!

For example, in Kneehill County, Alberta, the organizers behind a long-running community fundraising supper weren’t ready to just take a year off because of a global pandemic. Instead, they organized a drive-thru dinner in a field. The pulled pork, potatoes, coleslaw and dessert for a good cause ended up attracting people from across neighbouring communities.

“I had to walk down the line of cars and turn people away,’ says project organizer Earl Jeninga. “We thought 400 people would show up because around 350 people had pre-ordered their meals,” he says of the 650 people who showed up.

The lineup to get into the Kneehill North’s annual fundraising dinner was so long some would-be guests had to be turned away. Overall, the dinner was a great success, say organizers. (Photo: submitted)

Fundraising auctions in Abbotsford, Sask Valley and Grunthal all also moved online and growing project leader meetings in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario were held via Zoom.

For Foodgrains Bank staff , activities that would normally have taken place in-person moved online. For example, our Global Justice Advocates Training that would normally have happened in-person shifted to Zoom. Participants met with their members of Parliament virtually to share why they care about Canada’s global commitments.

Two virtual events were held for supporters, featuring program staff from Bangladesh, Zimbabwe, Kenya and Pakistan sharing about the food security situations in their respective countries.

This story was featured in the 2021 Annual Report. Download or order your copy here.

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