Foods Resource Bank Blog

What Motivates FRB Board Chair, Bill Adams.

Because it’s been obvious to me that long term sustainable development is necessary to address the real issues of hunger and poverty in our world, it is a great privilege for me to serve on the board of directors of the Foods Resource Bank (FRB).  After retiring from business, I responded to the 2003 call from the Christian Reformed World Relief Committee (CRWRC) to run their Disaster Response Services program. (CRWRC) is a founding member agency of FRB).  There is a great need in the world today for organized and compassionate assistance when disasters strike and I am proud to be part of an organization that delivers help in the form of volunteer labor, food and other relief services to disaster stricken communities all around the world.  But CRWRC is also committed to the long term development of communities, going way beyond the immediate recovery from the effects of a natural disaster.  Therein lies the basis for CRWRC’s partnership with FRB.

01/09/2012 | Comments: 0 | Add Comment | Read More

Consider the Conservation Stewardship Program for FRB


I listened to Roger Thurow, author of the book Enough, describe the problems of people trying to survive and grow food in Kenya.  He described how our government’s foreign aid to help fund improvements to the food production system in starving countries has dropped—at one time, we provided $8 billion.  That number recently has been $1 billion.  As the problems of hunger in Africa and other parts of the world have escalated, our help has evaporated, eroded, washed away.

Below is an idea that can raise a LOT of money for FRB and FRB sponsored overseas programs.  It starts at the same place all growing projects start---with U.S. farmers.  No one will need to go ask or lobby for funding.  It uses a relatively new agricultural program that’s available to all farmers. Here’s the concept:

12/27/2011 | Comments: 0 | Add Comment | Read More

The Weight of a Snowflake- A Christmas Parable

"Tell me the weight of a snowflake," a sparrow asked a wild dove.

"Nothing more than nothing," was the answer.

"In that case I must tell a marvelous story," the sparrow said. "I sat on a branch of a fir tree, close to its trunk, when it began to snow, not heavily, not a giant blizzard, no, just like in a dream, without any violence. Since I didn't have anything better to do, I counted the snowflakes settling on the twigs and needles of my branch. Their number was exactly 3,741,952. When the next snowflake dropped onto the branch - nothing more than nothing, as you say - the branch broke off."

12/24/2011 | Comments: 0 | Add Comment | Read More

Pigeon MI Growing Project Honors Farmer Merlin Yoder by Bev Abma


This past weekend, in a community in Michigan’s thumb where more windmills dot the landscape each time I visit, I attended a bittersweet event at the Pigeon River Mennonite Church: a harvest celebration coupled with a memorial service for longtime FRB farmer Merlin Yoder.

The day started out with two wonderful dramas, "The Empty Room" and "The Case of the Frozen Saints" during morning Sunday School and worship. Community members then shared a meal to celebrate their growing project's bountiful harvest. Growing project committee member Don Ziel battled the wind as he prepared enough chicken, on a grill he designed himself, to combine with the wide selection of hot dishes, salads and desserts in abundance for the enjoyment of all present.

12/19/2011 | Comments: 0 | Add Comment | Read More

Food: One Family at a Time (A Photographic Exhibit)

It’s a good thing I don’t get all my information about the world from the media: if I did, I might feel negative and hopeless.  Instead, my spirits are lifted just sitting at my desk here at FRB as I learn more every day about the countless, compassionate, caring, visionary people and organizations that are actually helping to bring about good will, justice, food security and a better life to their neighbors all over the globe.

A photo exhibit in the Kalamazoo-Portage MI area shows the good that four of these organizations are accomplishing for others  based right here, close to home.

12/15/2011 | Comments: 0 | Add Comment | Read More

Children Give Up Treat to Help Others In Need


This charming entry was written by Joni VandenBosch. Joni is the daughter-in-law of Jan and Lee VandenBosch, FRB office volunteers from Byron Center, MI.

Our family of six children, including Abigail (12), Micah (10), and Lucas (8), were working on a school project on Tanzania last spring .  They requested help from an FRB staff person for some of the needed props for their presentation.  

12/07/2011 | Comments: 0 | Add Comment | Read More

Remembering Matt Wiley, organic farmer for the Schoolcraft UMC/Winchell Ave. Disciples Growing Project


It was in the spring of 2001.  I was invited to speak after the morning service at Schoolcraft UMC. I gave the FRB “pitch” and opened it up for questions.  A hand went up in the back row.  “I can’t get excited about a program that would sell soybeans at 4 or 5 dollars a bushel.  How’d you like to sell ‘em for 10 or 12? I responded, “Well, I’ve never worked with an organic farmer before, but I would sure like to!”

And that started a wonderful relationship with my friend Matt Wiley.

At gatherings, Matt and I both knew why we were doing this – because, as Christians, this is what we are called to do – so we didn’t spend any time on it.  We had the luxury of talking about what we both love: farming.  It was a magnet that drew us together and we loved it.

Matt was a cutting-edge innovator, always hearing about and trying something new, like speakers sending sound waves over soybean leaves to encourage more efficient photosynthesis. I’d buy a gallon of fish emulsion for my garden: Matt would get a tanker load from the Gulf Coast to foliar-feed his corn. The growing project’s quarterly meetings with his city partner church were an education in farming, one of the many side benefits of FRB.

Matt “retired” from active farming this past year and rented out his land.  Then he worked with his renter, but they just couldn’t make organic farming work economically, so his farmland is now farmed conventionally.  The new farmer is now benefiting from 20 years of organic soil nurture: soybeans shoulder-high on a 6’ man.  Matt said, “Norm, I think we will have some spots that will hit 100 bushels per acre” … and so it will always remain in my mind as I recall Matt.

I don’t think Matt gave that much thought to Heaven.  He just assumed it.  Matt was a here-and-now type of guy: “How can I nurture what God has given us, and how can I make this earth and all of God’s people better?”

I will miss him. We will all miss him.

Norm Braksick

11/23/2011 | Comments: 0 | Add Comment | Read More

Dispatch from an FRB traveler

November 12, 2011- My month started with an interesting and learning filled trip with Bev Abma to North Korea. We were encouraged to meet the program partner and farmers on several farms. From here, I joined up with three FRB travelers from Iowa for a week in Timor Leste, an island nation off the west coast of Australia and one of the world's newest nations. Our member, CRS and their in-counter partner, CIACS, did a fantastic job hosting us! We spent time attending two training sessions along with farmers from two communities in Ossurua. We were taught new corn production and storage methods that will significantly impact the food security of the people we met. The scenery was breathtaking and I am definitely looking forward to our next trip back in 2013.

Today we are heading for Cambodia where we will visit a program with CRWRC. While on the plane from Timor to Australia I happened to sit behind a lawyer I met while attending a conference in Bulgaria in 2008. On landing in Australia we had a great time catching up and I learned more about his work in Timor where he has been with his wife for the last six years. No sooner had he connected with his next flight, I met a fellow Canadian who has been cycling around the world for the last two years. The world is full of interesting people and having the chance to hear their stories I feel spoiled.

Keep checking back for more on our trip and the stories we are collecting along the way.

Angela, FRB staff

11/14/2011 | Comments: 1 | Add Comment | Read More

An Update from Ethiopia

Marv Baldwin is spending a week in Ethiopia as a guest of the Ethiopian Commodities Exchange. Below is a peek into his week and one of Ethiopia's main commodities.

 A poster promoting Ethiopia's coffee

Sorting coffee beans

Coffee Roasters

A coffee grinder

11/09/2011 | Comments: 0 | Add Comment | Read More

Announcing FRB's Video Contest Winner

Congratulations to Dave Stienstra, who submitted a heart warming video on behalf of the people in a land bank program in the mountainous region of Nicaragua. Here is a link to the winning video.  

To learn more about our programs in Nicaragua, please visit their individual pages on our website:  Nicaragua ConquistaNicaragua Farmer, Nicaragua Mateare Carazo, Nicaragua Rio Coco.

11/09/2011 | Comments: 0 | Add Comment | Read More