A Picture of the Kingdom
Thank you for your recent article “Growing Power,” featuring Foods Resource Bank (by Ragan Sutterfield, February 2008). There were a few details in the article that may need clarification. Although we have a small staff working in our offices in Western Springs, Illinois, and Kalamazoo, Michigan, we are really a field-based and volunteer-driven organization. We are headquartered wherever there is a growing project or overseas program—in 200 projects throughout the U.S. and at 52 programs around the globe.
Although U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) money was used to match funds raised by growing projects whenever possible, USAID did not provide dollar-for-dollar grants as stated in the article. We are grateful that over the past five years, USAID has made grants to FRB in the amount of $3.1 million. Growing Project proceeds were almost twice that much over the same period of time.
Your readers might be left wondering why USAID has curtailed its grants this year. Despite the lack of funding, USAID is still very supportive of our work. Their (and our) dilemma is that it is difficult for an organization as large as the U.S. government to fund at a village level (as FRB’s funding is applied). Most government funding is used in large-scale projects that, while well-intended, often miss marginalized rural farmers around the world. While disappointing, the lack of government funding has stiffened our resolve to send the message during 2008 to policymakers in Washington that sustainable smallholder development holds the key to finding a way out of hunger and poverty.
In the article, Norm Braksick is identified as FRB’s executive director. Although Norm still plays a key role in our organization as a volunteer, I was hired as president and CEO in February 2005 when it became clear that the organization had grown to a point that it was necessary to hire a full-time leader. Thank you for your interest and support of our work.