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Presbyterian Hunger Program approves more than $1.2 million in grants

U.S. and international partners will benefit from Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) generosity

by Darla Carter | Presbyterian News Service

The Rev. Rebecca Barnes is coordinator of the Presbyterian Hunger Program (Photo by Rich Copley)

LOUISVILLE — The Advisory Committee of the Presbyterian Hunger Program has approved more than $1.2 million in grants to address hunger and its root causes, from Florida to Madagascar.

Over the course of multiple days, the Advisory Committee met virtually to discuss and settle on the grants, which will benefit organizations and projects in about 22 countries, including the United States.

“We are so grateful to our elected committee members who faithfully take 2½ days on Zoom to cover (almost) 100 grant proposals,” said the Rev. Rebecca Barnes, coordinator of PHP.

“They’ve all taken the time over the summer to read the grant proposals assigned to them, and they’ve scored and made comments on them,” she continued, “and then in the committee itself, they give a brief overview to the others who haven’t read the grant. It takes a lot of dedication, time and energy, and we’re thankful for their attentive reading, great questions and passion about the good work of the grantee partners.”

U.S. organizations receiving grants include BeLoved Asheville, which works on food equity and access issues in North Carolina; Creation Justice Ministries, which connects people to resources for environmental justice, education and advocacy; and the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW), a human rights organization in Florida that has fought corporate giants and others to improve farm labor standards and establish fairer wages.

The Coalition for Immokalee Workers (CIW) in Florida fights for the rights and safety of farmworkers. (Photo courtesy of CIW)

Commenting on CIW, Ann Elyse Hicks, Advisory Committee member, said, “I really appreciate the work that they’re doing in minority farming communities, and I really love that they have their own radio station,” which was helpful in disseminating information during the pandemic.

An ocean away is Action for Rural Women’s Empowerment, which works for women’s rights in Uganda.

In that country, “women are often cheated out of their inheritance and their land by a variety of different organizations and this organization helps women learn how to stand up and claim their land, so they can continue to farm the land and feed their families,” said Eileen Best, Advisory Committee member.

Other grant recipients from abroad include the Improvement and Development for Communities Center in Palestine; funding will help provide seedlings and foster greenhouse projects. There’s also the Fruits, Vegetables and Environmental Education Program of the Church of Jesus Christ in Madagascar, a country where food insecurity has been impacted by drought and there are concerns about the possibility of climate-induced famine.

“I think this is a wonderful organization,” Best said of the Madagascar program. “What I really like about it is that it works through the churches. They plant trees, they feed kids, they work on water problems, and they’re expanding into all of their congregations and the seminaries and encouraging everybody to plant trees.”

Hunger Action Advocates (HAAs) serve presbyteries as educators, motivators and facilitators of hunger action. (Courtesy of PHP)

The grant projects mesh with the Presbyterian Mission Agency’s Matthew 25 invitation, which seeks to eradicate poverty, dismantle structural racism and build congregational vitality, and reflects PHP’s desire to empower communities and families, care for Creation and fight the vestiges of colonialism.

“The PHP Advisory Committee has long used principles of decolonizing wealth in the decision-making process, inviting and reviewing grant proposals that particularly provide access to food, farming, land, water and sanitation, and training to communities that have experienced structural racism and systemic poverty,” Barnes said. “Our grants also go to Hunger Action Advocates in presbyteries and to Congregation-Based Community Organizing, which helps to revitalize congregations across the country.”

The Presbyterian Hunger Program is one of the Compassion, Peace & Justice ministries of the Presbyterian Mission Agency. Its work is made possible by your gifts to One Great Hour of Sharing.

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