Author: Terichow, Gladys
Date published: November 29, 2010
The Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) food account at the Canadian Foodgrains Bank is at its lowest level in years, drained by the large number of food projects MCC has supported over the past year.
The low equity, however, is good news in the sense that it means that thousands of people are benefiting from Canadians' contributions to MCCs account at the foodgrains bank, explains Willie Reimer, director of MCCs food, disaster and material resource programs. "Our account ... is well supported. People are unbelievably generous," he says.
However, Reimer is keeping an anxious eye on surging global food prices. Corn prices jumped 8 percent in one day in early October, hitting a two-year peak and leading other food commodity prices higher.
As in 2008, rocketing prices are the result of rising demand and localized food shortages caused by droughts and floods. Higher food prices push more people in low-income countries into poverty and, at the same time, reduce the food-buying power of international aid organizations.
"When the prices of food and food commodities go up, our money does not go as far," explains Reimer. "We would like to replenish our account so that we have more funds for unexpected emergencies."
At the beginning of 2010, MCC had $1.5 million in equity at the foodgrains bank, but that amount dropped to a low of approximately $140,000 in early October.
Although the number of urban donors to the account is growing, the farming community remains the financial backbone.
"The generosity of farming communities is amazing," says Harold Penner, a Manitoba farmer and a regional nator for the foodgrains bank. "Even if have tough times, we know that the we are helping have a tougher time than we have."
Volunteers in 200 Canadian nities joined together this fall to community-growing projects planted the spring, which they sell and then nate the proceeds to a member account the foodgrains bank. Such donations help MCC and other member agencies distribute food in times of emergency and people in developing countries improve their ability to grow or produce food.
In 2009-10, total donations to foodgrains-bank-supported projects reached $10.5 million, with 40 percent coming from grain donations. These funds, along with matching funds from the federal government's Canadian International Development Agency, made it possible for the foodgrains bank and its 15 member agencies to support 96 projects that touched the lives of more than two million people in 32 countries this past year.
BY GLADYS TERICHOW
Mennonite Central Committee