Ten Foodgrains Bank highlights from 2018

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Thousands of Canadians came together to help relieve hunger for many families around the world this past year. We are grateful for the support of these compassionate Canadians who continue working toward a world without hunger.

As 2018 comes to an end, here’s a look back on some Foodgrains Bank highlights from 2018:

10. Canadian Foodgrains Bank celebrates its 35th anniversary

Canadian Foodgrains Bank marked 35 years of working together to end global hunger in 2018.

This year marked 35 years of Canadian Foodgrains Bank member churches and church agencies working together to end hunger. The Foodgrains Bank was created in 1983 as a way for Canadian farmers, people who work in the agricultural sector, and other Canadians to respond to the needs of people around the world who don’t have enough to eat. The Foodgrains Bank emerged out of the Mennonite Central Committee Food Bank that had been created in 1975. Today, we have 15 member churches and church-based agencies, representing 30 Canadian denominations, all united in the belief that God doesn’t want anyone to be hungry.

9. Canadians see firsthand the effects of Foodgrains Bank projects during 2018 learning tours

Members of Parliament Sonia Sidhu, Anju Dhillon, Ziad Aboultaif and Mona Fortier travelled to Nicaragua in January 2018 with Foodgrains Bank executive director Jim Cornelius to learn about the importance of Canada’s support for small-scale agriculture is helping Nicaraguan communities lift themselves out of poverty and build a bright future for themselves and their children. (Photo: Charlene Wieler)

Five learning tours this year saw groups of Canadians travel to developing countries to deepen their understanding of food security and hunger. In Ethiopia, members of growing projects saw how their fundraising efforts in Canada are helping train small-scale farmers to grow more and healthier food for their families. Four Canadian members of Parliament visited Nicaragua to see how Canadian aid is helping lift communities out of poverty, and Canadian educators travelled to Nepal to learn more about global hunger so they can share what they learned with their students. And in Malawi and Haiti, Canadian supporters learned how erratic weather patterns and gender affect food security.

8. Grow Hope projects bridge rural-urban divide; help end world hunger

Over 50 Grow Hope Alberta sponsors gathered for a harvest celebration on July 29 at Richard and Esther Goerzen’s farm outside of Calgary. Proceeds from the sale of the crop will be donated to Mennonite Central Committee Canada’s account at the Foodgrains Bank. (Photo: MCC Alberta)

More than 900 acres of farmland were available to sponsor this year through several Grow Hope projects across Canada, with more than five types of crops being grown, including wheat, soybeans and corn. Grow Hope projects happen when a farmer offers to grow as many acres of a crop as an urban community will sponsor. These sponsorships help cover the costs of inputs like seed and fertilizer. When the crop is harvested, proceeds from the sale are donated to a member of Canadian Foodgrains Bank.

7. Mid-term mark of conservation agriculture program

Mihret Mena farms maize, haricot beans, pigeon peas, chickpea, cabbage, hot pepper, onions, mango and banana on .75 hectares of land in the Kindo Koysha district of Ethiopia. She experimented with incorporating conservation agriculture techniques she learned through a Foodgrains Bank-supported project into her farming and was pleased with the result. (Photo: Stephanie McDonald)

This year marked the halfway point of the Foodgrains Bank’s Scaling-Up Conservation Agriculture in East Africa program through Mennonite Central Committee Canada, Tearfund Canada (previously World Relief Canada) and World Renew. Through the five-year, $18.6 million program made possible by a $14 million grant from the Government of Canada, farm families who struggle to grow enough to support themselves are being trained in conservation agriculture methods to increase the fertility of their soil and improve their yields.  The goal is to have 50,000 farmers practicing conservation agriculture after five years. By the end of 2017, they passed the 21,000 mark and the program is moving quickly toward its target.

6. Global day of prayer to end famine

“We are glad to be able to join with people of faith around the world in praying for an end to hunger,” says Foodgrains Bank executive director Jim Cornelius. “Prayer is an important way Canadian Christians can stand in solidarity with their sisters and brothers around the world who do not get enough to eat.”

On June 10, 2018 Canadians Christians joined people of faith from around the world and prayed for an end to extreme hunger. In spring 2017, the world faced an unprecedented catastrophe when over 20 million people in Yemen, Somalia, South Sudan and Nigeria were declared to be on the brink of famine. Strong efforts meant famine was averted, but in 2018, that risk remains, and in some cases, increased.The day of prayer was a joint call from the World Council of Churches, the All Africa Council of Churches, and the World Evangelical Alliance.

5. Foodgrains Bank continues emergency food response in Syria

The Rev. Ibrahim Nzeir, pastor of the National Presbyterian Church of Aleppo in Syria, stands at the site where his church once stood. The building was destroyed in 2012, hit once in May of 2012 and then again more seriously in November of 2012. They built a new building in a differ part of Aleppo in 2015. Rev. Nseir’s church is a local partner of Foodgrains Bank member Mennonite Central Committee Canada. (Photo credit: MCC/Emily Loewen)

As the war in Syria entered its eighth year in 2018, the Foodgrains Bank and its members continued to respond to food needs in the country. The Foodgrains Bank, through its members, began responding to the Syrian conflict in 2012. Since then, we have committed over $50 million toward providing emergency food to Syrian refugees living in Lebanon and Jordan, as well as to households within Syria itself. Some families receive emergency food through the Foodgrains Bank for only one month, while other families have been receiving food since the beginning of the conflict. In total, 791,500 food baskets or food vouchers have been delivered since the start of the conflict.

4. Growing projects help people experiencing hunger despite tougher-than-usual growing season

After their field was covered in snow in September and early October, the Bear Lake growing project in Alberta harvested their wheat. (Photo credit: Famous Amos)

From flooding in New Brunswick to early snow in Alberta, many growing projects across Canada, this year’s growing conditions were more challenging than normal. Despite the challenges, they maintained committed to helping raise money for people experiencing hunger overseas. In Grand Prairie, Alberta, the Bear Lake growing project saw its field covered in snow in September and October. The snow melted and they were able to harvest in late October. “It has been a long hard harvest but community pulls together,” says Greg Sears, who donated the land for this year’s wheat crop.

3. Foodgrains Bank supporters deliver postcards to Minister of International Development, meet with over 50 members of Parliament

Minister of International Development Marie-Claude Bibeau stands with Foodgrains Bank supporters from across the country who delivered over 8,000 I Care postcards to her on World Food Day. (Photo credit: Shaylyn McMahon)

About 40 volunteers and Foodgrains Bank staff from seven provinces converged on Parliament Hill on World Food Day to tell elected officials that when it comes to ending global poverty and hunger—Canadians care. They met with 55 members of Parliament and hand-delivered over 8,000 I Care postcards to the Minister of International Development, Marie-Claude Bibeau.

2. Foodgrains Bank named one of Canada’s top impact charities of 2018

Canadian Foodgrains Bank has been included on the Charity Intelligence 2018 list of the top 10 charities in Canada for social return on investment. (Photo credit: Paul Jeffrey)

The Foodgrains Bank was included on the Charity Intelligence 2018 list of the top 10 charities in Canada for social return on investment. Charity Intelligence Canada is a third-party independent organization that examines different Canadian charities annually and assigns ratings based on impact per dollar of donation. Charity Intelligence works on the belief that the key question donors should ask of a charity is simply “how much good is my donation doing?” According to the organization’s website, giving for impact means examining a charity closely to understand the difference a charity is making in the lives of its clients. On average, charities in Canada provide $2 in social benefit for every dollar received. The Charity Intelligence report notes that high impact charities like the Foodgrains Bank provide on average $6 in social benefit.

1. Foodgrains Bank members respond to devastation in Yemen

Airstrikes destroyed Ahmed’s home in Yemen, forcing him to take shelter with his wife and their seven children under a bridge in the country’s largest city. (Photo: ADRA Canada)

Hunger, disease and bombs are devastating the lives of millions of people as the war in Yemen continues into its fourth year. About 4 million people in the country are at risk of starvation. Through ADRA Canada, the Foodgrains Bank is providing 1,100 vulnerable families will receive emergency food rations of flour, beans, oil, sugar and salt. The families live in the Harib Alqaramish district of Yemen. The area has experienced extremely intense conflict, including airstrikes and frequent bombardment. Many homes have been destroyed.