Frequently Asked Questions

Foods Resource Bank (FRB) is a Christian, non-government, humanitarian organization committed to providing food security in the developing world through sustainable small-scale agricultural production, thereby allowing hungry people to know the dignity and pride of feeding themselves. Member organizations are Christian denominations and/or their relief and development agencies. Additional supporting organizations provide inputs for food security and/or advocacy. Revenues to support sustainable food security programs are generated through U.S. community growing projects involving landowners, farmers, agribusinesses, and churches.

FRB works on behalf of its members to mobilize and increase the resources needed for food security projects. Cash resources are provided to the member organizations of FRB. These members work with their in-country partners worldwide to implement assistance. All overseas programming is the responsibility of FRB's member organizations who propose, implement, monitor, complete, and report on the programs. In this way, FRB avoids infrastructure costs while taking advantage of members’ long-term presence and experience overseas.

FRB provides a common mechanism and structure of support services, facilitation and communications for its contributing members and their in-country partners.

All FRB assistance is provided in accordance with the principles of the International Humanitarian Code of Conduct.

Foods Resource Bank links the grassroots energy and commitment of agricultural communities around the world with the capability
and desire of smallholder farmers in developing countries to grow lasting solutions to hunger.

To achieve this mission, FRB invites individuals, congregations and communities to form growing projects through which they raise funds to support food security programs around the world. These programs are run by FRB’s member organizations and their partners. FRB also invites people to travel to Washington DC to do advocacy for agricultural development and to travel overseas to visit the overseas programs.

In FRB's parlance, a "project" is a U.S.-based growing project; a "program" is what FRB supports overseas.

Resources are from:

• Community growing projects

• Gifts from individual farms

• Church/community fundraising efforts

• Support from the agribusiness community and other local businesses

• Donations from individuals, foundations, corporations, and government agencies

The most successful way for FRB to raise new resources and create a sense of community excitement has been through community growing projects.

A community growing project is a unique and rewarding way for people to contribute grain and other agricultural commodities to Foods Resource Bank. A typical project involves a group of people getting together to farm a common plot of land. Once harvested, the crop is sold and proceeds are donated to Foods Resource Bank for use in the food aid and development programs carried out by our members overseas.

Organizing a successful community growing project takes a committed group of volunteers, some land, some creative fundraising and publicity, and lots of good, honest work! Despite the challenges, community growing projects have tremendous benefits. You'll feel a sense of achievement and build community spirit. You'll gain a new appreciation for farming, learn about food security issues and work together with many others to achieve a common goal.

Most important, you will help thousands of hungry people throughout the world to feed themselves and their families by using your talents and encouraging others to contribute their talents as well.

The choice is entirely up to you. If you're willing to share, we're willing to utilize the resources you raise to implement smallholder, sustainable, agricultural food security programs, through our member and their local partners, in some of the world's poorest communities.

Climate, crop rotation, availability of seed and the value you'll get on delivery will help you determine what to grow. In the Midwest, corn and soybeans are the most popular, but growing projects have also focused on pumpkins, ornamental gourds and shrubs, hay, winter wheat, popcorn, beef cattle, dairy models, swine-feeding, vegetables, chickens or eggs, even honey production! Any project idea is an option.

There is more than one way to finance a community growing project.Some groups choose to solicit cash donations and pay for everything up front. Others encourage donations of the use of land, products or services. Either one of these options, or a combination or both, is appropriate and effective.

Rural communities have the land, equipment, and farm management, but in today's farm economy, may be short on cash. City churches or civic groups can financially back a project but have no land. "Twinning" these groups together allows both to share their talents and resources.

Don't be shy about asking others for support. You'd be surprised how much local people and businesses want to help when you tell them about what you are doing. In the past, groups have received donations of:

• seed

• fertilizer & chemicals

• food/refreshments for harvest celebrations

• free labor

• trucking & fuel

• machinery

• lumber for field signs

FRB also has a grant from the John Deere Foundation for new and expanding growing projects. These funds can be used for a variety of costs involved in starting or expanding the activities of a growing project. Go to the John Deere Grant Application (pdf)

After your crop is harvested, you will need to sell the crop on the open market through your usual channels.

We recommend you call Foods Resource Bank when your crop is planted. Keeping us informed of your progress is a good idea and we will be able to give you guidance on all aspects of making your growing project a success. 

If your crop gets delivered to an elevator you should also check with the elevator manager to ensure space is available and your delivery can be accommodated. A strong relationship with your elevator manager is important. Try to involve your local elevator manager as a part of your team wherever possible.

Filling out a donation form, available through FRB and on our website, helps us follow your intentions as to how your growing project would like to us to use the funds you’ve raised.

The products must be monetized (sold, converted to cash), with the proceeds going to FRB. It is tremendously expensive to ship anything to a port city, then overseas, and then get it to hungry people. We feed more people if we source inputs for our overseas agricultural development programs as close to the need as possible. Plus, as Christians, we need to make certain we don't place U.S. commodities on an emerging in-country market and squash their initiative. Many of FRB's overseas food security programs are now in a position to market grain or other vegetables, but they have no market if food is being given away for free in their own countries.

FRB uses the proceeds from your growing project to support program communities in becoming self-sustaining. The money is used by FRB’s member organizations, their in-country partners and village leadership to support smallholder farm families in growing their own food. It may purchase seed, tools, fertilizer, wells, drip irrigation, small herd animals, etc.  It may pay for extension services and farmer field schools and demonstration plots. It may be used for training in appropriate agricultural techniques, health, nutrition and sanitation instruction, internal savings and loan groups, farmer co-ops and more. FRB’s model is to involve program beneficiaries in determining what they need to improve their family and community food security. FRB’s programs focus on the most vulnerable community members: women, children, the elderly, and HIV/AIDS patients and orphans. The goal is for all to live healthy, productive lives and grow enough food for household needs, with extra to share, barter or sell to purchase basic medicines and household staples and send ALL their children to school.

To form a local community sponsoring group which will have the responsibility for all local FRB activities. These might include: 

• Providing local leadership to identify and raise needed resources

• Organizing a growing project by securing the annual use of land, farmers to farm the land, inputs (seed, fertilizer, etc.), and a market for the products.

• Encouraging farmers not involved in the growing project to donate grain from their individual farms at the designated growing project elevator.

• Evaluating community resources to determine if some other agricultural commodity (milk, cattle, poultry, vegetables, honey ... the list is endless!) would be more suitable as the basis for a growing project

• Increasing local awareness and interest in the project and in the complex issues surrounding world hunger

• Involving a wide range of community talents and resources

• Planning for a Harvest Day or a Harvest Dedication/Celebration

FRB member organizations have established networks of in-country partners who have the proven capacity and experience to professionally implement food security programs, maintain accountability, and provide FRB resources to people in need. FRB avoids infrastructure costs by taking advantage of members’ long-term presence and experience overseas. Overseas programs are monitored and held accountable through the quarterly reports they send to FRB. Any problems or challenges are reviewed and acted on by FRB and member staff and local partners.

Long term, FRB is committed to keeping its operational and administration costs below 10% of the total annual program value. Growing projects choose how they would like FRB to use their donations. They can direct FRB to apply their funds to one of our more than 57 overseas programs; to the FRB member account of their denominations to help them start new programs; to FRB's General Programming Account to use where most needed; or FRB's operations account to ensure that we can continue to carry out quality programs overseas.

Immediately working to solve hunger is the necessary part of any program. But hunger alleviation alone can lead to dependence. FRB programs are designed to be up to 25% hunger relief if needed in an emergency, and 75% - 100% food security. 

What is "food security?" As described by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), food security exists "when all people, at all times, have access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life." Important components of food security include:

• Availability: Sufficient quantities of appropriate and necessary foods are available to all people at all times. 

• Access: Individuals have the capacity and opportunity to access food to adequately meet their daily dietary needs.

• Utilization: Individuals are consuming adequate quantities of nutritionally balanced food in ways that allow them to achieve good health.

• Environment: Individuals practice responsible stewardship of physical and knowledge resources in meeting food security.

• Resiliency:  Capacity of individuals, households, and communities to cope with risks and/or vulnerabilities. 

Implementing food security is different in everyplace that FRB’s partners work because each context is unique. In general there are some common elements across most programs. These include: community buy-in and planning, education, training, and sometimes hard inputs such as seeds, tools, and livestock. 

FRB receives with much gratitude your growing project’s donation. We know it represents a tremendous investment of time, knowledge, and commitment. FRB is structured to offer you several choices for designating the money you raised. As each area is important to our work, we ask you to prayerfully consider all options.   

1. Designate to a Specific Overseas Program – Pick one or more of FRB’s 57 overseas programs to support. Current funding needs for all programs can be found here. Consider limiting your designation to no more than 25% of a program’s total budget, so other growing projects have an opportunity to participate. If you wish to continue with a specific program you’ve supported in the past, be sure to reconfirm this with FRB each year. 

2. Designate to a Member Account – All of FRB’s programming is done through our 15 member organizations. Through these accounts, growing projects can choose to support the FRB programs led by a particular member. Funds designated to a member’s account go to support their current FRB programs, programming costs, and the creation of new FRB programs. Our member organizations are:

Adventist Development and Relief Agency International (ADRA)
Catholic Relief Services (CRS)
Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) Week of Compassion (CC[DOC]WOC)
Church of the Brethren (COB)
Church World Service (CWS)
Evangelical Covenant Church—Covenant World Relief (CWR)
Lutheran World Relief (LWR)
Mennonite Central Committee (MCC)
Nazarene Compassionate Ministries (NCM)
Presbyterian Church USA (PCUSA)
Reformed Church in America—Reformed Church World Service (RCWS)
United Church of Christ—One Great Hour of Sharing (UCC-OGHS)
United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR)
World Hope International, Inc. (WHI)
World Relief
World Renew

3. Designate to the FRB General Programming Account – This account supports current programs, new programs that need additional funding beyond what is designated, and certain programming costs.

You are welcome to designate your funds to more than one account; simply detail that on the donation form. We are happy to help answer any questions you might have about this process, and are pleased to see the level of interest that so many people have in connecting with our neighbors around the world. Thank you for your commitment to “growing lasting solutions to hunger!”

When you start a program like this, everyone naturally thinks about the recipients and how they will be helped. Assisting hungry people to become self-sufficient is, of course, the main concern of FRB, its members, and it growing project communities. However, the individuals, congregations and communities involved in FRB growing projects are equally blessed!Many small rural churches or communities, interested in mission but constrained by lack of cash resources, suddenly find that, just doing what they do best, with financial backing from city churches or civic groups, they are able to contribute many thousands of dollars to FRB's overseas programs and make a profound, positive impact on the lives of hungry people overseas!

The farm communities relish the opportunity to show their way of life to urban or suburban people who may have little experience or knowledge of what it takes to grow food. Rural-urban connections, lost over the last 75 years, are renewed.

Church denominations, whose buildings are side by side but who have never worked together, find a common passion in helping hungry people feed themselves. Communities involved in FRB growing projects are often re-invigorated by working together in this way.People want to do more than write a check and wonder what happens to it. An FRB growing project gives you a chance to see and touch, to get personally involved. The farmer, while perhaps short on cash, gives a gift only he or she can give: the use of land, equipment, time, and management of the growing project. Agri-businesses have a chance to honor those who keep them in business. City dwellers, while short on land and seed, can financially back the project. Each gives of his/her individual gifts and talents to fulfill Jesus' words from his first sermon: "I have come to bring good news to the poor." 

All donations, no matter what the size, allow our members to carry out effective programs that work. Hungry people who participate in Foods Resource Bank's overseas programs survive on much less than the average person living in the developed world. For less than $10 per person per year, our program communities experience transformation and hope for the future as they sustainably grow their own food. We take seriously the trust you place in us. All programs and funds are carefully monitored by our member organizations. They are administered through reputable and known agencies. These in-country partners have a proven track record of administering programs and are committed to helping people feed themselves.Through FRB’s growing project and overseas Ag development models we've seen the good that can come from following Jesus' directive to "Feed my sheep."