Helping hands still needed for food security projects

Truro Daily News
Published on August 19,2015

Brenda Leenders had a summer trip she will never forget.

Leenders, of Truro, recently returned from Ethiopia where she spent the first part of her summer learning about global hunger and food security, which relates to people’s ability to access sufficient food to live healthy lives.

“I am inspired by the sense of hope that our presence represents for the people we met,” said Leenders in a news release. “That people from the other side of the world would care enough to want to help gives them hope. This challenges me as a Canadian to step up and do my part.”

Leenders, a public health nutritionist who also serves as Nova Scotia co-ordinator for the Canadian Foodgrains Bank, co-lead an international food security learning tour for educators organized by Canadian Foodgrains Bank.

The group of 10 teachers and youth leaders from across Canada spent about to two weeks in Ethiopia. They visited community development and emergency food relief projects, supported by Foodgrains Bank and its partners on the ground. One of the projects the group visited is providing food to orphaned and vulnerable children and the people who care for them. Another project is helping a nomadic tribe in the Afar region integrate farming into their traditionally nomadic, pastoralist lifestyle.

Foodgrains Bank food study tours focus on three main goals, said Roberta Gramlich, tour organizer and Youth Engagement Coordinator for the Foodgrains Bank.

“There’s a focus on building a sense of global community, learning about food security, and seeing how Foodgrains Bank member agencies are responding to the needs of hungry people around the world,” said Gramlich in a news release.

In addition to the project visits, the group also visited the Ethiopian Ministry of Disaster Management & Food Security Sector and the World Food Programme to learn more about other programs that are working toward a more food secure country.

For many people, our only image of Ethiopia remains the one burned into our memory from the famine of the 1980s. While today the country is much more food secure, many people still struggle to feed their families. Climate change, environmental degradation and poverty remain challenges.

The Canadian Foodgrains Bank “Good Soil’ campaign asks people to challenge our federal government to renew its commitment to small-scale farmers by investing in international agricultural aid.

“This is important,” said Leenders, “because we witnessed that food aid does not end hunger.”

Leenders said she personally witnessed how investment in small-scale farmers helps reduces poverty and hunger, improves health and nutrition, empower women, helps the vulnerable adapt to environmental risks and builds inclusive economies that set people on the path to a more prosperous future.

Leenders will share more about the trip during the Harvest 4 Hunger NS Picnic on Sunday Aug 23. The event is from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Captain Cob’s Corn Maze and Fun Farm at Masstown Market, An Ethiopian inspired coffee ceremony will also be held at 2 p.m.
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