Congratulations to Foods Resource Bank’s own Ron DeWeerd and Reverend Joan Fumetti named as the 2016 Robert D. Ray Iowa SHARES Humanitarian Award winners. This prestigious award is given annually to recognize an Iowan who has provided significant leadership in confronting hunger and alleviating human suffering both at home and abroad. This is the first time the honor has been bestowed on two people.
“We are deeply gratified by this recognition of the humanitarian gifts of two people who have shaped FRB’s mission and ministry,” says FRB President and CEO Marv Baldwin.
When announcing the award recipients at a press conference on Monday, The World Food Prize organization lauded FRB as “one of the most dynamic and innovative agricultural assistance programs in America.” The award will be formally presented to Ron and Joan at the Iowa Hunger Summit on October 10 in advance on of the World Food Prize October 12-14.
“Hunger is simply not acceptable in this era,” says Ron. “This award shines a light not only on the issue of hunger, but also on the organizations that are taking action to address it.”
Adds Joan, “We have heard first-hand from the farmers we have helped across the globe how the money we have raised is directly making a difference in people’s lives. I am profoundly thankful for the global network possibility FRB has helped create.”
Since 1999, FRB’s volunteers, community projects, member organizations, individual donors, corporations and foundations have made it possible for over a million people around the world to achieve food security. If you’d like to join FRB in reaching The Next 1 Million people, please donate online. FRB has received the top, 4-Star rating of Charity Navigator, one of the nation’s most trusted charity evaluators.
Ron, FRB’s director of resource development, has been with FRB since it’s founding in 1999. Joan joined FRB as a volunteer in 2001, became our director of growing project development in 2002, and transitioned back to volunteer work when she retired from FRB in 2014. Together they have inspired thousands of people in Iowa and across the country to change the conversation about world hunger from food aid to supporting small farmers and their communities as they grow their own lasting solutions to hunger.
“Ron and Joan have taught us, with their words and their actions on behalf of FRB, that all people everywhere deserve the opportunity live healthy, more productive, more hopeful lives,” says FRB board director Geoff Andersen, who spoke at the World Food Prize press conference announcing the winners. “By their example, they have demonstrated how each of us can play a part in ending world hunger. Thousands have heeded their call, and for that we are all grateful.”
Together, Ron and Joan inspired farmers, landowners, rural and urban people, churches, businesses, civic groups, youth organizations, and volunteers of every stripe to give the gifts they could give – time, expertise, elbow grease, or money – to allow FRB to offer practical and innovative ways to grow their own food, care for their families, and stay in their own communities.
“Our success would not be possible without FRB and the volunteers, farmers, churches and many U.S organizations that joined us in our mission,” says Ron. “That also includes the journalists that have helped tell our story to thousands across the Midwest and nation.”
Adds Joan, “We have never done anything on our own. By connecting a network of people around the world, we’ve created lasting bonds between U.S. farmers and their farming neighbors half a world away.”
Both Ron and Joan continue to educate people about the complexities of world hunger: climate challenges, soil and water degradation, international markets, land grabs, natural and man-made disasters, and how all these affect the poor and the vulnerable. They are tireless advocates for peace and social justice and the potential of smallholder farmers to feed their communities as long as they have training and support and feel empowered to determine their own goals and realize their own dreams for their future.
Says Geoff, “I know you join me in thanking Ron and Joan for their vision, their passion, their energy, and their belief in the dignity and value of all people. They are humanitarians in the richest sense, and I am grateful for their service to FRB and to all humankind.”
Recently, FRB's director of development Ron DeWeerd participated in a congressional briefing on the issue of food security.
DuPont Executive Vice President Jim Collins described food security as “representing one of the greatest challenges of the 21st century” during a June 9 briefing on Capitol Hill to release the findings of the Global Food Security Index (GFSI) prepared by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU). The event was sponsored by DuPont and the Alliance to End Hunger.
With around 3800 varieties of potatoes in Peru, you can imagine that the people who live there are expert potato cooks! Potatoes, grains, meat and fats are staples of the Peruvian diet, but as participants in FRB’s Peru-Castrovirreyna program begin to improve their children’s health through nutrition, they are also learning to grow, cook, eat and appreciate a number of vegetables new to them. Cooking classes for the whole family become a way to try new foods, develop recipes, and even inspire people to compete for prizes as they invent new dishes.
CODESO, the local partner of the FRB program led by Lutheran World Relief, printed a handsome cookbook they call “Llapanchiqpaq yanukusun” in Quechua, or “Let’s Cook for Everybody.”
“Many hands make light work.” In Haiti’s Northwest Department, this is more than just a common saying. This is the principle behind the work that Foods Resource Bank supports through CWS and other partners.
I recently traveled to Haiti and met with some of the cooperatives that the program supports. Through the work of local partner SKDE – translated to the Center for Christian Integrated Development – the program supports 12 cooperatives that reach nearly 5,000 families.
Through its partnership with Lutheran World Relief, FRB supported a pilot project called Learning for Gender Integration. Read about the results in the article below.
Farmers in the Flor de Pancasán area of Nicaragua’s Matiguás municipality were struggling. They were seeing low crop yields for a variety of reasons, including soil depletion, a lack of resources to make key investments and weather fluctuations, and this was affecting their ability to feed their families. Through its Learning for Gender Integration project, Lutheran World Relief wanted to see whether an initiative to increase agricultural production and improve food security might be bolstered with efforts to reduce gender gaps.
A lovely little video from one of FRB's implementing partners, Lutheran World Relief. We currently partner with them on programs in Bolivia, India, Nicaragua, Peru and Uganda.
We share this to thank all people who are involved in helping people overcome challenges and grow lasting solutions to hunger!
For Darla Stewart and other Waverly First United Methodist Church members, a garden project has become a hands-on mission.
Stewart, an administrative assistant at the church, said the garden was planted this year to grow fresh food for the community and to raise funds for an overseas project through the Foods Resource Bank.
Stewart said the children who attend the church’s Sunday School program have been working on the garden to grow peas, lettuce, tomatoes and other vegetables. An acre of sweet corn was recently added.
This is teaching the children about charity, Stewart said. “It’s not just throwing money at something,” she said. “It’s actually doing mission [work] with their hands and their hearts to help others.”
April 26, 2016 - On March 29, I was honored to be among the 250 people gathered at the Hall of Laureates in Des Moines, Iowa for “Women and Agriculture: The Road to Global Security”. Organized by the Foods Resource Bank, Oxfam America, and the World Food Prize Foundation, the event celebrated the critical leadership of women and the importance of ensuring human rights and eliminating hunger in order to achieve global peace and security.
Iowa’s Senator Joni Ernst shared a particularly powerful source of inspiration. While in college, she had the opportunity, through a government exchange program, to work alongside peasant farmers on a collective farm in then communist Ukraine. After a full day of manual labor, there were no tractors available on the collective farm, the Ukrainians and Americans would eat supper together. These conversations often included questions about agriculture in the United States, but the Ukrainians were even more interested in what it was like to be free.
What is it like to be free?
How many of us even notice roadside vegetation, let alone stop and think how it got there? A lone maple tree on the road between Yerevan and Shirak Province in Armenia has a heartwarming history. How it survived in the harsh, dry climate has a parallel with the slow but steady work of ag development, and the nurturing inherent in all of Foods Resource Bank’s food security programming overseas.
A number of years ago, thousands of trees were planted along the roads in Armenia with the goal of revitalizing neglected and isolated communities