The Canadian Foodgrains Bank enjoyed another year of stellar support from Albertans — and every dollar of the $2.6 million raised in the province in 2015 was put to good use.
“There is a lot of need,” said Terence Barg, one of the Foodgrains Bank’s two co-ordinators in Alberta.
The organization, a partnership of 15 churches and church-based agencies, works in more than three dozen countries, but the Syrian refugees crisis has become a top priority.
“We’ve been working in Syria since 2012 and we’re feeding people in Syria, Lebanon, and Jordan,” said Barg. “Right now, there are over eight million people displaced within Syria and more than 3.5 million have left for neighbouring countries. They fled with nothing and have no way to generate an income to purchase food. They need food today and that’s why we’re doing food assistance.”
Most of the money raised in Alberta comes from growing projects and there were 34 in the province last year. Those projects and two other events raised $1.74 million, with the remainder coming from individual donations.
“All of our food assistance gets matched on a four-to-one basis,” noted Barg. “So what that means is that $1 donated equates to $5 because the federal government puts in $4.”
The number of growing projects has been stable in recent years, with one or two new ones offsetting those that don’t continue — usually because they lose the land they’re renting. This year, there are new projects near High River and Neerlandia, although new is the wrong term to describe the latter.
“Neerlandia had one of the first growing projects in Alberta, possibly the first, and then a number of years ago, the land they were renting was sold,” said Barg. “But they decided to go again and found some land to rent, so we’re excited to see them going again.”
There are growing projects in all parts of the province and each one is a community effort.
“Each growing project will have from four to 15 people involved — that will be the core and often there will be a number of other people doing the farming, fundraising, and those sorts of things,” said Barg.
“What strikes me the most is the generosity of people and their commitment to the cause of feeding those in need. Some of these projects have been going for 15 or 20 years and those groups are continually working to keep the project going. They’re committed year after year — it’s not a one-off.”