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.”