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Feds extend foodgrains bank support

Federal funding extended to national foodgrains bank
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The Canadian Foodgrains Bank provides food relief for places hit by hunger and invests in food security relief, with the help of farmers and producers.
WESTERN PRODUCER — The Canadian Foodgrains Bank will be able to continue its global hunger-fighting and development work after the federal government agreed to keep funding it.

International Development Minister Harjit Sajjan announced Dec. 6 that the foodgrains bank would continue to receive $25 million per year for three years, renewing its expired agreement.

“When I look at the work that’s being done, it’s not just about providing food, it’s about creating a future for these children and the impact they’ll have for one another, because you know that the work they’re doing now, the impact that it has on families, that they in turn will, later on when they grow up, provide the means and be able to help others as well,” said Sajjan at the announcement, in which he was joined by representatives of the charitable organization.

While the foodgrains bank is supported by farmers, rural residents and the Canadian public and receives donations from across the country, the government multiplies those donations to provide the organization with its funding.

The organization both provides food relief for places hit by hunger and invests in food security relief, including helping overseas farmers improve their farms.

“The effort of many thousands of Canadians who support the foodgrains bank have been amplified through the grant,” said executive director Andy Harrington.

“I’m proud that commitment has stood the test of time.”

Hunger is particularly issue now as COVID-19 ravages the world’s economies and supply chains.

“The pandemic has resulted in the single largest increase in global hunger ever recorded,” said Sajjan.

While the foodgrains bank was already receiving a government grant, its future is always uncertain once the agreement lapses. Sajjan said the organization fits with the federal government’s commitment to improve the situation and health of women and children in developing nations.

“We are committed to improving the nutrition for the world’s poorest and most marginalized, especially women and girls,” said Sajjan.

“In many countries, women plant the food, work the fields, harvest the crops, and then cook the meals. Yet far too often they’re the ones who eat last and eat the least.”

The foodgrains bank is a unique charity, evolving from decades of farmer support for hunger alleviation and built on more than a dozen church-based aid organizations. Supporter Jan McIntyre of Clearwater, Man., said the cross-denominational support is heartening.

“As a donor, I find it to be a powerful statement that 15 Canadian church and church-based organizations overcame theological differences to work together in partnership through the Canadian Foodgrains Bank to offer assistance to those living with hunger,” said McIntyre.

She also praised the organization’s commitment to working with agencies based in countries where it has a presence.

“Not only does this approach bring practical value, it also respects and offers dignity to the people of the country and communities we help.”

Harrington said the organization has deep roots that grow out of its agricultural base.

“For prairie grain farmers who helped to found the foodgrains bank, that people should be starving to death in a world of abundance was naturally a disgrace,” said Harrington.

“Like farmers do, they came together to make it happen.”