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Addressing hunger by investing in small-scale farmers

FMSC addresses hunger by partnering to source rice from small farmers for use in nutritious meals to be used for the chronically hungry.

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Explain your project idea (2,000 characters)

Recent estimates from the World Health Organization (WHO) indicate that nearly 11 percent of the population is experiencing chronic hunger worldwide. Representing the livelihoods of approximately 2+ billion people and producing much of the world’s food supply, supporting small farms and farmers has been identified as critical to increasing food security and preventing malnutrition.

A Christian organization, Feed My Starving Children’s mission is to eliminate child worldwide while providing meaningful service opportunities for U.S. volunteers. Through the 3-Pack project, FMSC aims to more deeply and effectively reduce undernourishment in the various communities its worked in for the past 31 years by purchasing ingredients in-country from small scale farmers - boosting the economy and livelihoods in the areas that receive FMSC's volunteer-packed meals. FMSC has begun a second pilot using this model, alongside its partners, in rural communities in Nicaragua where more than 60 percent live in extreme poverty to see if it can be replicated in other countries with its partners.

This project addresses both peace and prosperity. It addresses peace as volunteers serve on behalf of some of the world’s most vulnerable which leads to the prosperity both of the farmers and the school children who receive these meals.

As of April 2017, 11,073 FMSC volunteers have packed over 3,318,144 meals in the United States. In Nicaragua, FMSC’s partner Fabretto has engaged 2,536 volunteers in the Managua area, finishing packing 1,229,904 meals of these meals, using locally-sourced Nicaraguan rice, that have been and will be distributed through Fabretto’s school feeding programs. Because of this project, Fabretto is currently sourcing rice from and equipping small farmers, many in Jalapa, Nicaragua, in order to support the local economy.

In the next phases, FMSC would like to explore expanding this project to other communities in the near future.

Who are the beneficiaries? (1,000 characters)

The 3-Pack Model has benefitted small-scale farmers living in rural Nicaragua (or will in other countries where it expands) by giving them access to a new market. In total, at least 166,000 pounds of rice will be purchased. It also benefits the children and vulnerable adults experiencing acute and chronic malnutrition who receive nutrient-rich meals through FMSC’s partners programs. In addition, it bridges global understanding as volunteers have the opportunity to learn about global poverty and increasing hunger and then make a tangible difference.

By procuring rice in-country, this food aid model invests in the economies of the communities they serve and to more effectively address issues of poverty and hunger. It also has the potential to strengthen collaboration among existing partnerships among relief and development organizations, boost economies through local procurement, and increase food security in other developing communities where FMSC and its partners work.

How is your idea unique? (1,000 characters)

This idea is different from other similar food aid programs in a few ways. First of all, FMSC uses all volunteer labor to pack its meals, and has helped its partner, Fabretto, to set up a volunteer program to pack the remaining rice in Nicaragua. In a place where formal volunteerism is not the norm, this program grows awareness among Nicaraguan corporations and universities about existing poverty. In addition, these meals have been scientifically-designed to meet the unique nutritional needs of children who are experiencing undernourishment. Thirdly, FMSC has a track record for a high percentage of its meals reaching those who need them most. A total of 99.8 percent of all meals in its 31-year history have reached their intended destinations. Having sent more than 322 million meals to 63 countries worldwide last fiscal year, expanding this model has the potential to have a tremendous and holistic impact on food security.

Idea Proposal Stage (choose one)

  • Pilot: I have started to implement the idea as a whole with a first set of real users.

Tell us more about your organization/company (1 sentence and website URL)

A Christian organization with headquarters in Minnesota along with sites and events around the country, FMSC’s mission is to eliminate child malnutrition worldwide while providing meaningful service opportunities for volunteers in the United States.

http://www.fmsc.org

Expertise in sector

  • 7+ years

Organization Filing Status

  • Yes, we are a registered non-profit.

In 3-4 sentences, tell us the inspiration or story that encouraged you to start this project.

FMSC has worked in communities experiencing extreme food insecurity for 31 years. This project was an opportunity to collaborate more with our food distribution partners in Nicaragua and to invest more deeply in the economy of the communities where school feeding programs have already been using FMSC meals to prevent and reverse undernourishment. FMSC hopes to explore expanding this model to other regions where it has partner support.

Please explain how your selected topic areas are influenced, in the local context of your project (1,000 characters).

When the project started in 2017, the area had been affected by a recent drought. The rice farmers live in impoverished rural communities of Nicaragua’s Dry Corridor, where a 3-year drought and La Roya, a coffee disease, had crippled the livelihoods of over 30,000 families. More than 60 percent of the families in this area live in extreme poverty. Peace has recently been affected in Nicaragua by civil unrest. There have been demonstrations in protest of recent government policies along with violence, including many deaths. This has meant that volunteer activities have not been active, which may mean a quicker expansion of the 3-Pack model to other countries in Central America.

Who will work alongside your organization in the project idea? (1,000 characters)

FMSC relies on an extensive network of committed Distribution Partners to reach its country destinations. These Distribution Partners, in turn, work with small, local ministries and humanitarian organizations to distribute FMSC food. FMSC has a growing list of partners and sent meals to 63 countries through 89 partner organizations last fiscal year.

Specific to the current 3-Pack Project, FMSC works closely with Fabretto, Food for the Poor (FFTP) and American Nicaraguan Foundation (ANF). FMSC has been in partnership with Fabretto since May 2010. Fabretto has been responsible for providing the rice vendor, some financial resources, developing and managing the Nicaragua-side volunteer activities, and distributing meals to students through its education centers.

As this model expands to other countries in the near future, FMSC would work with additional on-the-ground partners.

Please share some of the top strengths identified in the community which your project will serve (500 characters)

* The community has had willing volunteers.
* The community has highly skilled rice farmers.
* FMSC has set up its CROPPS program, which unites humanitarian organizations in the region. They have been strong allies with Fabretto as they seek to engage volunteers in finishing packing the meals with the locally-procured rice.
* The community has already worked with Feed My Starving Children in partnership with Fabretto for 8 years.

Geographic Focus

United States, Nicaragua, other communities with high rates of undernourishment where FMSC works

How many months are required for the project idea? (500 characters)

To complete the initial pilot, approximately 10 months.

Did you submit this idea to our 2017 BridgeBuilder Challenge? (Y/N)

  • Yes

If Yes, how has project idea changed, grown, or evolved since last year? (2,000 characters)

• This FY18/19, Feed My Starving Children is funding 50% of the total rice cost up front (pre-harvest) to provide the farmers certified seed and soil testing and appropriate fertilizers and inputs, supervision of land preparation, crop establishment, water and nutrient management, harvest, and post-harvest management and storage.
• As a result of this project, FMSC’s partner Fabretto is now engaging 28 small holder farmers to cultivate the rice provision for the Joined Hands project. Many of these farmers are from Jalapa, Nicaragua.
• To date, FMSC’s partner Fabretto has packed 5,694 boxes of meals (1,229,904 meals) with 2,536 volunteers. There has been little to no volunteers at Fabretto since the political violence broke out in Nicaragua mid-April.
• As FMSC expands this project in the near future, funds may be used to expand this model in other communities experiencing high rates of undernourishment where FMSC currently works. This means leveraging existing partner relationships to engage small-scale farmers, create a volunteer base, and continue distribution.

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