City and Rural Churches Work Together to Help People who are Hungry

Urban congregations support rural growing projects through Canadian Foodgrains Bank

By John Longhurst, Canadian Foodgrains Bank

It can cost a lot for a growing project to grow a crop for Canadian Foodgrains Bank-land rental, insurance, seeds, fertilizer, fuel and other inputs all require a considerable amount of money. That’s why members of the Portage la Prairie, Manitoba. FOCUS growing project appreciate the help they receive from two Winnipeg congregations.

“We’re glad for the support,” says FOCUS organizer Tony Peters. “It helps us pay the bills.”

Last year the project raised $53,000 for the Foodgrains Bank from the sale of 224 acres of wheat and canola, after expenses; it receives a total of about $10,000 each year from the Douglas and Charleswood Mennonite churches to help pay the various bills.

At Douglas, the fundraising effort is spearheaded by Cameron Funk.

“I grew up with the Foodgrains Bank,” says Funk, whose parents were Foodgrains Bank supporters in Hague, Saskatchewan. “It was natural for me to want to keep supporting it.”

Funk started fundraising for the FOCUS project-it stands for Feed Countries, Undo Starvation-at Douglas about five years ago, after involved in the project shared that they needed help with inputs. time, between $4,000 to $6,000 has been donated by church members project each year.

Over at Charleswood Mennonite Church, retired teachers Len and Phyllis Peters head up the fundraising. “It’s a good project to support,” says Phyllis. “It’s well organized, and the Foodgrains Bank is an efficient way to help feed hungry people.”

Why do people at the two urban congregations like to support the project? Both Funk and the Peters think it’s partly because so many people at their churches have rural roots.

“Many people at our church grew up on the farm,” says Len, noting that was true for him and Phyllis. “It’s a way for many people to keep connected with farming.”

“Many people at Douglas have ties to agriculture,” adds Funk. “That makes it a project they like to give to.”

Although it’s not an official goal of the Foodgrains Bank to bring rural and urban congregations together, a number of urban churches across Canada support growing project-and that’s a good thing, says Harold Penner, Foodgrains Bank regional coordinator in Manitoba.

“Rural people who organize growing projects really appreciate the support of people from city churches,” he says, noting that many growing projects are sponsored by rural congregations. “It’s a real encouragement to them.”

Plus, he adds, “by linking urban and rural people together through growing projects, city people who may have no connection with farming can learn more about all the things that go into producing food in Canada.”

Urban churches that would like to support rural growing projects through the Foodgrains Bank can contact Tami Duff at tduff@foodgrainsbank.ca 204.944.1993 or 1.800.665.0377.

The Canadian Foodgrains Bank is a partnership of 15 churches and church agencies working together to end global hunger. Together with matching support from the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), the Foodgrains Bank has provided over one million tonnes of food assistance to people who are hungry since 1983. Learn more at  www.foodgrainsbank.ca.

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