The Canadian Foodgrains Bank will continue to feed the hungry and work to change the systems causing poverty but it will be hard, said new executive director Andy Harrington and outgoing executive director Jim Cornelius on a webinar with supporters on November 10.
Global hunger is on the rise after many years of decline, Harrington and Cornelius said.
In the online presentation, Cornelius reflected on his years as executive director and metaphorically passed the baton to Harrington.
Harrington comes to the Canadian Foodgrains Bank from the Wellspring Foundation, a Christian non-profit that develops and supports schools in East Africa, including through food relief programming. He’s worked with marginalized people in several countries for over 30 years, Harrington said.
The Foodgrains Bank has been fighting hunger for decades on behalf of Canadian farmers of faith. Now it aims to also boost its urban profile.
During the online event, Harrington recalled how he, a friend and two British nurses travelled to a relatively isolated village in Ethiopia. They thought they were well prepared to help sick and hungry people there, but found themselves quickly overwhelmed.
“With all of our theory of good international development, and all of our theory about humanitarian work, we found ourselves in a situation of absolute, unimaginable chaos and poverty,” said Harrington.
That day he made a commitment, said Harrington, “That I would do everything I could, within my power to stand with the marginalized, the oppressed, the hungry and to do what I could, not only to make their lives better because that would be a kind of a saviour mentality that I didn’t want to put up with in my own life, but to come alongside them and try to experience life from their perspective as much as is possible for someone who comes from the privileged background that I do.”
This commitment led him to the Wellspring Foundation, and now to the Canadian Foodgrains Bank.
Looking to the future, Harrington acknowledged the rural roots of the Foodgrains Bank. “We honour those roots, and we’ll build on them,” he said.
The Foodgrains Bank will continue to build into urban and suburban areas, he said, and make the Foodgrains Bank better known there.
“We’re going to find ways to continue to not only feed the hungry, but to actually change the systems they’re a part of that cause the impoverishment,” said Harrington.
The organization will continue to find different ways to link food assistance to long-term sustainability so they have their own resources. “That’s a difficult task, but it’s a task we’ve set for ourselves,” he said.
After many years of progress, global hunger has begun to increase again, Harrington and Cornelius said.
This is due to increased conflict which is displacing people, to the effects of climate change that hurt people’s ability to grow food for themselves, and to COVID-19 which has “drastically affected food supply systems,” said Harrington.
“There is much work still to be done,” said Cornelius, but he reminded supporters that neither progress or regress is inevitable.
Cornelius praised supporters for not taking a year off because of the hardships of COVID-19, but said he worried the government of Canada would decide to take a year off of funding the Foodgrains Bank.
Harrington and Cornelius asked people to continue to pray, learn, give and advocate on their behalf.
Foodgrains Bank a top-impact charity in 2020
Canadian Foodgrains Bank is one of Canada’s top-impact charities in 2020, according to Charity Intelligence Canada.
“This repeated public affirmation of our work, and the work of our members and partners, is truly welcome and celebrated,” said Foodgrains Bank executive director Andy Harrington in a news release November 19.
“We realize that people who support the Foodgrains Bank place a great deal of trust in us when they make a donation,” he added.
Charity Intelligence Canada is a third-party organization that profiles charities based on their transparency, accountability, cost efficiency, need for funding, and social impact, its website says.
Of its 2019 top-impact charities, which included the Foodgrains Bank, CIC said, “These Top 10 have the highest measurable impact. Our calculations estimate that these Top 10 Impact Charities deliver average returns of seven times on the dollar, compared with average returns of one to two times on the dollar.”