UMCOR / Our Work / Hunger / Food Security

Foods Resource Bank Is Farmers’ Way To Make Their Fields Full of Promise

An UMCOR community worker lifts young groundnuts to show how bountiful the crops would be, come November's harvest. Credit: Stephen Guy/UMCOR

How can U.S. farmers help people in Kenya, one of the drought-stricken areas of east Africa, to have a more secure source of food?

Simply do what they do best, says Ohio farmer Vernon Sloan. For the last six years Vernon and Carol Sloan have worked with others in their church and community to grow corn, hay, wheat, or soybeans. When the crop sells, they give the cash to Foods Resource Bank.

FRB links rural and urban church members with other contributors to sell crops that help hungry people grow their own food. Farmer Sloan, a United Methodist, is a former member of the FRB board of directors, and Carol Sloan is a current member. UMCOR is one of FRB's 16 denominational partners.

Christian Response to Hunger

FRB is a Christian response to world hunger. Unlike historic feeding programs, FRB is neither emergency aid nor disaster relief but a humanitarian helping hand for the most vulnerable-usually women and children-to produce enough to feed their own families. Money formerly used for shipping, storage, and distribution of grain now purchases seed, tools, small herd animals, and building materials. Cash from the sale of donated crops provides ponds to catch rainfall, seed, tools, training, and agriculture extension help.

Just Do What You Do Best

Here's how it works. Farmers pledge a portion of their crop or livestock to Foods Resource Bank. Crops are sold for cash. Member dues and a grant from a large foundation cover administrative expenses. FRB in turn sends the cash to its member agencies to mount three- to five-year programs overseas to help a village become self-sustaining. "There are millions of hungry people in our world who have the ability and desire to grow food for themselves and their families," says Marv Baldwin, FRB president. "We are thankful for the chance to work together to provide the important start that many hungry people need."

In Armenia, for instance, an FRB grant is enabling UMCOR to promote food security through expansion of dairy farming in some of the most disadvantaged regions of the republic. Vulnerable institutionalized people are also benefiting, with nutritious milk and other dairy products supplied by farmers in the program to supplement their daily diets.

United Methodist churches in Iowa, Michigan, Illinois, Ohio, and other farm belt states have participated in FRB programs. For example, Greenfield United Methodist Church in Creston, Iowa, teamed up with farmer Dennis Lundy who loaned 35 acres for a crop of soybeans in a community growing project. They raised more than $12,000 to support UMCOR's work in Guinea, West Africa.

The beauty is, everyone can contribute. Farmers donate their time and use of their equipment or land. Agribusinesses provide seed or fertilizer or grant favorable prices. Urban or town dwellers can help pay for costs not donated. Just by doing what they do best, everyone can participate in these fields full of promise.

Want to know more?
Contact June Kim at UMCOR for information on how to get started.

(Adapted from materials at Foods Resource Bank web site. Used with permission.)