"I once heard someone say they knew they were in a rich country when the grocery stores have three aisles of pet food." This statement was made from a woman who had just landed in Winnipeg, after travelling from a refugee camp in a third world country from the other side of the world.
Despite being surrounded by a wealth of food across North America, statistics show up to 783 million people in the world experience hunger, nearly 98% of people experiencing hunger live in developing countries, and around 80% of displaced people live in countries affected by long-term hunger.
These statistics come from the Canadian Foodgrains Bank (CFB); its mission is to end global hunger.
'Canadian Foodgrains Bank is rooted in the belief that humankind is created in the image of God and that it is God’s desire that no person should go hungry,' states their website. Through emergency food assistance, long-term responses to hunger, and engaging Canadians and the Federal Government, the organization facilitates 99 food-sustainability projects around the globe.
The CFB is an association of 15 national church agencies that work together, with their international partners, to raise both awareness and funds to support food-security projects around the world. Funds are matched by the Canadian Federal Government 4 to 1, the core grant being up to $25 million each year. The Canadian Government also has provided additional funding to the CFB over the years as well.
Regional Representative for Manitoba and Northwest Ontario, Gordon Janzen, says seeing community come together to bring in a crop is always thrilling, and he recognizes the sacrifices of all involved, especially now during the harvest season.
"When I see ten combines coming out and grain carts and 200 people, I know that this is a miracle of sorts," shares Janzen. "It's a miracle that we see people take an afternoon to come out to a harvest during harvest season, because these farmers are all busy with their own harvest and yet they are dedicating their time and their equipment and people power to supporting the Killarney Growing Project, and Canadian Foodgrains Bank, and for that we are very, very thankful."
There are close to 40 community groups in Janzen's region that support the Foodgrains Bank in some way, about half of which are grow projects, which work about 4,000 acres of land, growing crops such as wheat, canola and soybeans. The other half of the community groups raise funds through community choirs, auction sales and other community initiatives.
Funding from the Federal Government has expanded the capacity to accomplish more around the world, says Janzen, and with the increasing number of hungry people globally, they are able to help more people. "We really appreciate the support from the constituents, but also the government. "Our program budget has increased over the last year," he notes, "but it has also been overwhelmed by the numerous hunger crises in the world."
Janzen says a number of factors continue to increase the world-wide hunger crises we are seeing globally. "Conflict is a big driver of that, such as the Ukraine-Russia war as well as other wars and conflicts that are displacing people which we don't always hear about. Climate extremes of drought and flooding also are displacing people. So, those are the conditions that our agencies are responding to, and the support from this project, and others across Manitoba, really makes a difference."
"We really are experiencing a hunger crisis in several parts of the world, especially in east Africa right now," he says.
"As a Christian response to hunger we hear these reports about millions of people experiencing hunger, but we also want to remember that behind each of those numbers is a person, someone who is made in the image of God and deserves to have enough, just like we have enough," shares Janzen. "So, we reach out as best we can and the support that's coming from [our community projects] really makes a difference."
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