Tag Archives: Hunger in America

Projects for Fiscal Year 2017–18—Part 5 (conclusion)

By BGR Staff

23. U.S.: Urban Farming in Detroit

Nearly 40% of Detroit residents live below the poverty line and 21% of metro Detroiters are food insecure. Keep Growing Detroit (KGD) was established to promote a food sovereign city where the majority of fruits and vegetables Detroiters consume are grown by residents within the city’s limits. The aim is not only to provide residents with seeds to increase food security but to achieve “food sovereignty,” where residents are the leaders and beneficiaries of a transformed food system, able to make decisions about the health, wealth, and future of their families and community.

The grant from BGR will support KGD’s ongoing programs. These include: (1) The Garden Resource Program, which helps increase access to healthy food by providing technical and resource support to 1,500 urban gardens and farms in Detroit, including 400 new gardens in 2017. Together these gardens will produce over 180 tons of fresh, nutritious, locally grown produce for predominately low-income families and engage more than 16,000 residents. (2) Twenty-two events including 16 educational workshops and 6 garden workdays reaching 440 residents. At these events a diverse pool of community leaders and instructors, many Garden Resource growers, will provide hands-on instruction on basic gardening, water conservation, and food preservation techniques to build the skills and confidence of urban farmers. Annually renewable project

24. Vietnam: Enhanced Homestead Food Production

This is the second year of a three-year partnership between BGR and Helen Keller International that addresses household food security for residents of Muong Lang Commune, in Son La Province, a remote mountainous region in the northwest of Vietnam. There is high malnutrition in this region, which is a contributing factor to 50% of infant and childhood deaths. The Enhanced Homestead Food Production (EHFP) program trains multi-generation families to increase year-round food production with more diversified crops to improve nutrition and thereby to improve health. In all over 100 families in 10 villages will benefit from the program (approximately 550 individuals). The grant from BGR sponsors a third of the program.

In year two, an additional ten communities will benefit from the establishment of Village Model Farms (VMF)—a community based resource for training and technical support for the roughly ten families that typically make up each small village. Within each village a community husband and wife are identified and trained as the VMF demonstration farmers. These VMFs will provide agriculture resources for the community households (i.e. seeds),  educate families on nutrient rich crops, and  provide hands on training including bio-composting, crop diversification,  sanitation and hygiene, and even marketing strategies for income generation from sale of excess food production. The family model empowers women to actively contribute to the improved health of their village.

25. Vietnam: System of Rice Intensification in Dai Tu District

This project is conducted in partnership with the International Cooperation Center of Thai Nguyen University. The project aims to introduce the System of Rice Intensification (SRI) to farmers in Dai Tu district, a mountainous region located in the northwest of Thai Nguyen Province. Rice farmers from two communes and agriculture extension staffs of Dai Tu district will be trained on SRI. Most of the farmers are women. The training will help them to reduce their work burden in rice production and improve rice productivity. After training, the trainees will return to their communes to teach other farmers how to apply SRI on their rice fields. They will be the key farmers to expand the SRI model in their villages and in 31 communes and towns in the future. 160 rice farmers will be the direct beneficiaries of the project, and about 1,000 other farmer households will be indirect beneficiaries.

Project activities include meeting with various district and commune leaders and with state agricultural experts for the introduction of SRI, providing SRI training for farmers in two pilot communes, conducting field trips for participants to get direct hands-on experience in SRI techniques, establishing SRI production in the rice fields of the pilot communes with further training. The program will provide ongoing support for these pilot fields, with final workshops held to share knowledge and experience more widely with farmers throughout the district. Annually renewable project

26. Vietnam: Meals for Hospital Patients at Tam Binh Hospital

In Vietnam, the price of a hospital stay does not include food. Already challenged by the hospital expenses, most patients and their families are hard pressed to buy food. In partnership with the Tam Binh chapter of the Vietnam Red Cross Society, since 2009 BGR has been providing thousands of free meals to patients at the Tam Binh hospital. With the grant from BGR and the support from the Tam Binh local chapter of the Red Cross, 500 vegetarian meals are served daily to hospital patients. A total of 3500 meals will be served per week, or 182,000 meals per year for hospital patients. BGR funds will be divided among fifteen Red Cross teams.  Each team will be able to provide meals for four weeks to hospital patients.  Thus, fifteen teams would provide hospital meals for an entire year.  This project supports the nutritional needs of some of the most vulnerable people—those who are poor and sick. Annually renewable project

27. Vietnam: Scholarships for Poor Children in Tam Binh and Cam Duong Districts

Each year BGR sponsors scholarships to students in schools in both the Tam Binh and Cam Duong districts of Vietnam. The scholarships are given by the Vietnam Red Cross Society. With BGR funding, the Red Cross will be able to provide scholarships to 305 students from the Tam Binh district at the levels of primary, middle, and high school, and to 400 students from the Cam Duong district at the levels of primary and middle school. BGR funds will be used to provide annual enrollment fees, school uniforms, books, and educational materials for the 2017–1018 school year. These are children from the poorest families who achieve good grades and display good conduct. Without this aid, these students would not have the means to continue their studies. The scholarship also provides each student with basic health care during the school year. Annually renewable project

28. Haiti: Supporting the Nutrition of Poor Children in Jacmel

The mission of the Joan Rose Foundation—a U.S.-based nonprofit—is to give impoverished children and their families in Jacmel, Haiti, the opportunity to succeed in life. For the past six years the Foundation has been providing education, food, medicine, clothing, and legal documentation with the ultimate goal of breaking the cycle of poverty for poor children and their families. The food program has always been one of JRF’s biggest expenses. Feeding the children allows them to focus in school and tutoring sessions, improves their overall nutrition and wellbeing, and takes a financial burden and stress off their parents. The BGR grant will allow the Foundation to continue providing the children with two nutritious meals, breakfast and lunch, Monday through Friday. Part of the BGR grant will be used to obtain the help of SUCO, a Canadian NGO based in Jacmel that specializes in agriculture production, nutritional education. and diet. This portion of the grant will be used to bring SUCO into the community to conduct workshops with the children and community members. The grant will cover this training, workbooks, additional farming tools, and seeds.

— SERIES ON 2017-18 PROJECTS CONCLUDED —

Reconnecting Homeless Youth to Food, the Earth, and Spirit

Taz Tagore

Grants from BGR have provided not only food to homeless youth, but opportunities for companionship and a sense of belonging.

For the past 10 years, the Reciprocity Foundation has worked tirelessly to support homeless and foster-care youth aged 13–26 in their transformation from impoverished persons living in a shelter to educated, employed youngsters playing a leadership role in society. With BGR support, Reciprocity is expanding its Urban Food Project, taking youth upstate to spend time working on small organic farms where they learn the basics of planting, harvesting, and cooking fresh organic meals. Below is a six-months report from Reciprocity Foundation co-founder Taz Tagore.

The second half of 2016 was one of the most meaningful and challenging periods in our organization’s history! It has been a year of great change—some of the changes involved loss and others involved finding new inspiration, allies, and community.  While I want to summarize where we have been in 2016, I also want to address the enormous energy building at Reciprocity to invent a more courageous, visionary and loving model for transformation in the world. But first, our work in the past year…

In June 2016, we completed our 2-year project entitled SEE ME—a full-sized, full-color photography book detailing the stories and faces of New York City’s LGBTQ homeless and foster youth.  SEE ME was about more than taking photos—we worked with renowned photographer Alex Fradkin and the Reciprocity team to support a powerful transformation in the lives of 45 homeless youth who participated in this project.  Of the 45, 42 are now employed or in a college program of their choosing.  And more importantly, they are engaged in work that is meaningful to them, engaged in contemplative practice and are feeling seen.

In Spring 2016, we also planted our second Urban Garden in Harlem. Youth learned to plant a garden, grow food, cook meals, and develop their “Recipes for Life.”  And, we continued to transform the lifeless spaces in which homeless youth live in New York into more vibrant, energetic, and healing spaces for both youth and staff.

We also helped youth connect with food in a new way—both introducing youth to vegetarian food and helping them to have a direct experience of the power of food on your mind, energy level, aspirations, and overall well-being.  We helped youth make strong connections between eating wholesome vegetarian food and managing their mental health.

In fall 2016, Reciprocity co-founder Adam Bucko left New York City to pursue priesthood with the Anglican Church.  He will be in seminary for three years.  As a community, we engaged in a deep process of letting go and embracing a new way of being with each other.  I will lead the organization with a team of staff and youth graduates as supporting members of the team.  And we are slowly seeing the possibilities that lay dormant inside this loss—we are taking the time to transform this period into an opportunity for innovation, risk-taking, and building new connections.

Our change also affected our program space.  We left our space on West 36th Street (due to rent increases) and now have a smaller space inside the Good Shepherd Services building on East 17th street.  Our interim space has a large Multi-Purpose room for group workshops, coaching and Career Projects with a beautiful meditation space and meeting room on the third floor.  I believe strongly that we will sign a new lease when we have more fully developed the new vision for Reciprocity.  It may be that we have a retreat center upstate and a small space in the city—or a re-envisioned space in the city.  Either way, we are grateful to be housed in a temporary space for now.

In fall 2016, we launched two new projects—first, to help homeless youth who have been incarcerated or court-involved to heal, find community, and express their gifts in the world.  This program has included food, meditation, and coaching.  Second, we have launched a program to support Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming Youth in their gender transition—and, perhaps as important—to transition into a new, fuller, and connected way of being in the world.  I am so encouraged and inspired as I move our organization into a more courageous, visionary, and creative incarnation.

Last but not least, we are expanding our retreat program to include more programming to actively reconnect youth to food, the earth, and spiritual ecology.  The grant from BGR is helping us to take an ever-deepening journey that is about more than feeding youth. Urban youth are finding that food is a powerful salve for their bodies, minds, and spirits.  How wonderful!

Taz Tagore is co-founder, with Adam Bucko, of The Reciprocity Foundation

Projects for Fiscal Year 2016–17—Part 6 (of 6)

BGR Staff

21. Peru: Vocational Education Training for Poor Women
NEW PARTNER

Founded in 1989, the Asociación Grupo de Trabajo Redes (AGTR) is devoted to providing vocational education to women and mothers employed in domestic work while teaching them about their human and labor rights. The Association runs an employment agency, La Casa de Panchita, to help women find jobs with adequate pay and respect for their skills.

This BGR partnership–along with the Nicaragua project our first in Latin America–will benefit women who have been employed in domestic work from childhood. The women find themselves struggling to provide proper nutrition, shelter, and other amenities to their families due to a paucity of employment options.These women are trapped in poverty, and as a result their daughters too will be trapped, thus perpetuating the cycle.

To break the poverty trap into which many girls are born, AGTR empowers women and mothers through vocational educational training. Through a grant from BGR, AGTR will provide training to 100 marginalized women who wish to undertake domestic work, while also giving access to employment through their employment agency. Utilizing an adequate salary, these women and their families will escape the misery of hunger, while their daughters escape the need to work and can remain in school. The women will be taught about their human and labor rights and will be given access to AGTR’s in-house employment agency, which upholds the standards of the organization.

Woman and Boys

No more kids under 14 working

The Vocational Educational Training (VET) workshops are divided into three 3- hour sessions. The women will learn about their labor rights as domestic workers, become better prepared to negotiate a just salary, and learn about the social benefits such as healthcare available to all individuals who are employed full time. After students complete the training, they are equipped to begin their search for just and decent employment. Continue reading

“Our City is Growing!”: BGR’s Partner, Keep Growing Detroit

The following is the annual report sent to BGR by its partner, Keep Growing Detroit. Thanks to Ashley Atkinson, director of KGD, for providing the report.

KGD_Boc Choi-1

 

The Garden Resource Program

With approximately 40 square miles of vacant land and headlines reporting a city on the brink of collapse, the news of Detroit may seem grim. However, if you walk the streets and talk to the many dedicated and resilient city residents, including the more than 15,600 residents that participate in Keep Growing Detroit’s Garden Resource Program (GRP), you’ll see they are writing a much more inspiring story with a headline that reads, “Our City is Growing”!

Their story tells a tale of our great city’s transformation, which begins with seeds planted in 1,375 gardens in the rich soil surrounding community centers, block clubs, churches, and in backyards of families across the city. Read deeper and you’ll see that these 805 family, 424 community, 56 school, and 90 market gardens are not just growing delicious and healthy food, they are a model for how once industrial urban centers struggling with economic and social challenges can use urban gardens as a tool to build a greener future for their city, with strong families, thriving communities, and robust local food economies. Continue reading

Fixing a Broken Food System

Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi

As the presidential campaign heats up, a coalition of organizations has launched a new initiative that’s also taking aim at the White House. The initiative, called The Plate of the Union, brings together the Union of Concerned Scientists, Food Policy Action, the Food Policy Action Educational Fund, and HEAL Food Alliance in a campaign intended to fix our broken food system. Starting its drive at the top of the political hierarchy, the coalition seeks to confront the US presidential candidates with the challenge of recognizing that the US food system is in crisis. Continue reading

NYC Walk to Feed the Hungry

Sara McMahon

On our 6th annual NYC Walk to Feed the Hungry we were blessed with excellent weather—a little chilly at first, but the sunshine soon made it perfectly comfortable.​ About 150 people turned up to support this event!

Group Photo

Echo Bonner of the Dharma Drum Retreat Center ​got everyone warmed up with a mindful movement meditation, formally known as the Eight F​orm​ Meditation.

​Participants then gathered as ​Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi ​spoke of the history of the Walk, and read a ​special ​message of support from New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.
Continue reading

“Concert to Feed the Hungry” Graphics Wins Award

BGR Staff

The promotional campaign for Buddhist Global Relief’s “Concert to Feed the Hungry” has been recognized with a 2015 American Design Award. Designer Rob Barth of Barth and Company received a Certificate of Excellence from competition sponsor Graphic Design USA. According to the sponsor, the annual event attracted “more than 10,000 entries from around the country, with a highly selective 15% recognized for excellence.”

Rob's Certificate

In response to the award, Rob said: “For me, better than the award is the fact that the campaign successfully promoted the concert and helped raise awareness of world hunger and fund BGR’s efforts to feed hungry people around the world.” It was Rob Barth who also designed BGR’s award-winning logo (see the masthead above), which over the years has been applied masterfully to our promotional materials by our team of talented professional communications designers.

Graphic designers play a major role in shaping cultural attitudes, political advocacy, and consumer spending, and in these capacities their work can be used for both harm and for good. Ethicists in the graphic arts community, well aware that design is a double-edged sword, have been urging graphic artists to use their gifts responsibly. An article titled “Ethics and Social Responsibility” on the website of the Professional Association for Design reminds designers that they work within “a much broader system of moral values and obligations—not just how we do our work, but what it is that we are doing in the first place and the impact it will have on the world.” The article urges graphic designers “to contribute to the betterment of all and to ensure abundance, diversity and health to future generations.”

Through his work for Buddhist Global Relief, Rob Barth has certainly been living up to this commitment. We all congratulate Rob and thank him for his valued contribution.