Trinity United Church has a long history of raising money for the Canadian Foodgrains Bank.
And with its upcoming fundraiser, the Vernon church is once again committing funds to the organization, while at the same time helping out a school lunch program.
The Canadian Foodgrains Bank is one of Canada’s leading food assistance organizations. Its mission is to end global hunger by collecting grain and cash donations for projects submitted by their 15 member agencies.
“The bank was started 31 yars ago in Winnipeg, by a group of four Winnipeg residents in a time when there was a lot of hunger in Africa due to crop failure, but there was a surplus in Canada,” said Joanna Rainer, chair of the Outreach Committee at Trinity United Church. “So grain farmers were thinking ‘is there some way we can get this surplus grain to countries that need it.’
“It was a bit like a food bank, but on a bigger scale.”
The Christian-based organization started with the Mennonite Central Committee but now has 15 member agencies and churches across Canada, including the United Church of Canada, the Anglican Church of Canada, the Salvation Army, Adventist Development and Relief Agency, Canadian Baptist Ministries, Canadian Catholic Organization for Development & Peace, Canadian Lutheran World Relief, Christian and Missionary Alliance in Canada, Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada, Evangelical Missionary Church of Canada, Nazarene Compassionate Ministries Canada, Presbyterian World Service and Development, World Relief Canada and the Christian Reformed Church.
“I think the work they have done has been so successful that they are actually two of Canada’s main food assistance agencies, and any donations are matched to a maximum of $25 million a year by the federal government.”
Rainer said the bank has three main areas of focus. The first is food assistance, for people who are starving and who need food immediately.
“The big focus now is Syrian refugees, within Syria and those in refugee camps, and the Sudan is another big focus,” she said.
The second focus is on food security, looking at funding projects that look at ways to help people in developing countries become more self-sufficient. Some of those projects would include conservation farming techniques, dam projects and irrigation projects.
And the third focus is on nutrition, for those people who do have food but perhaps have poor nutrition, with a particular focus on pregnant and nursing women and children.
“Trinity United Church has had a long history in the fall in recognition of World Food Day, a UN initiative,” said Rainer. “TUC has celebrated every year by having a campaign amongst the congregation where we raise money for the Foodgrains Bank.
“What we’ve done in the last few years is we’re looking at both global and local needs, so within the congregation in the last few years we’ve split donations between the bank and Trinity that supplements between people’s visits to the local food bank; people can only go every two months, so TUC has its own little food bank that has been well-supported by the congregation.”
This year, the church will host a community event on Thursday — Oct. 16 is World Food Day — from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m.
“We have been so impressed by learning about the food grains bank and what they do,” said Rainer. “Because there are so many denominations involved, our idea this year was to bring it to the wider community, so we invited two speakers from the Canadian Foodgrains Bank who have been involved for quite a few years.”
In addition to raising money for the bank, the event will also support the Fulton secondary school family lunch program.
“When we were planning this event, our outreach committee discussed splitting proceeds with a local organization in need and lo and behold, a letter came across my desk from Fulton vice-principal Melanie Jorgensen, as I am involved in the Emergency Food Action Network.
“She said they have noticed an increase in hungry kids at their school and what Melanie found out is that our elementary schools are relatively well-served with donations, and when secondary schools went to the community to find donations, the local businesses are tapped out helping elementary schools so she was looking for community partners, not only at her school but in the future, so we said here’s a community need so we’ll split the donations.”
The fundraiser takes place Thursday at Trinity United Church, 3300 Alexis Park Dr. A soup and bun dinner will be served at 6:30 p.m., followed by speakers Ron Klusmeier and Christina Bogucki from the Canadian Foodgrains Bank. There will also be a brief musical program. Admission is by donation.
“This event gives us a chance to share the work of the bank to a wider audience while raising money for two programs,” said Rainer.