Global Food Initiative grants sow seeds

Church of the Brethren Newsline
August 14, 2018

Members of the Victory Soybean Cooperative near Gurku, Nigeria. Photo by Kefas John Usman.

The Global Food Initiative (GFI) of the Church of the Brethren has made numerous grants this summer, supporting community garden projects in the US, an agriculture conference in Haiti, an educational initiative of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN—the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria), and continuing hurricane recovery efforts for farmers in Puerto Rico. The five grants made since June 1 total more than $36,000 in aid.

The largest, and most recent of the grants—issued Aug. 6—will support Puerto Rican farmers who are still struggling to recover from Hurricane Maria, which devastated the island in September 2017. A sum of $28,491 will enable long-term projects related to produce, livestock, and a hydroponic shelter.

Four individual proposals were submitted by farmers to the disaster response committee of the denomination’s Puerto Rico District and were gathered together in issuing the grant. The funds will support the purchase of construction materials, tree seedlings, fertilizer, insecticide and herbicide, chicks, goats, sheep, fencing materials, and feed.

Earlier in the summer, a pair of grants were issued in support of community garden efforts, one at Canton (Ill.) Church of the Brethren and another at GraceWay Church of the Brethren in Dundalk, Md. Canton received $1,000 to help its project, which is being done in partnership with a local school. It hopes to provide an affordable and nutritious food supply for area residents as well as to share produce with a local food pantry. Funds are enabling the purchase of seeds, hoses, lumber, a rain barrel, and other materials.

At GraceWay, a grant of $1,569.30 will support a project that serves African immigrant refugees in the community. It hopes to improve diet and health practices among the low-income families and to promote awareness of hunger issues. An additional GFI grant of $1,000 had been made to the project in July 2017.

A grant of $500 in June allowed four members of the community development staff of Eglises des Freres d’ Haiti (Church of the Brethren of Haiti) to attend an agriculture conference sponsored by a variety of Christian non-profits and NGOs in Haiti. Funds covered registration, lodging, meals, transportation, and print materials.

The final grant, issued in July for $4,866.25, will support travel costs for three key leaders working with EYN’s Soybean Value Chain project to travel to Ghana in September. The learning trip, planned and hosted by Dennis Thompson—a semi-retired researcher from the University of Illinois and the Soybean Innovation Laboratory—will allow the EYN leaders to observe small-scale soybean processing facilities in Ghana and talk with researchers and staff. The Soybean Value Chain project is part of the Church of the Brethren’s larger Nigeria Crisis Response.

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