Seems simple, right? This is by far the most difficult program we offer.
The goal is always to seek out sustainable solutions. Teach people how to farm, fish, build small business etc. But sometimes, sustainability is not in the budget and we have to take things in a different direction.
We’ve been involved in many different food programs around the world. In Africa, we set up tents and offered a large community style dinner for several straight days. In Guatemala, we lined up like a traditional “soup kitchen” and filled plates for hours at a time. In Haiti, we walked through the villages streets leaving food on hundreds of doorsteps.
It’s a nice feeling to walk away knowing you’ve fed 500 people but how much are we really helping them? If we hand a single person one small bag of rice or beans then sure we can say we fed them. But it’s only for one meal. Are we really creating a change?
We sat around for weeks trying to figure out the best solution for feeding individuals, families and communities. Dropping off a small bag of food to 500 individuals doesn’t change the dynamic in their lives. So what if we focused on a smaller amount of people, let’s say 20 families and funded their groceries for a week or maybe a month? That would allow the families to save money in other areas of their lives and possibly help them get ahead financially.
We leaned on our friends in Honduras, Dominican Republic to help guide us. First, they reached out to the families and asked what their needs are. Next, we ordered the food through small markets to help create sustainable income. And lastly, we organized at a small distribution center.
From a connection and distribution stand point this worked flawlessly. We even received many comments from the locals on how wonderful the process was.
Have we cracked the code? Is a small distribution center the future of our immediate food assistance program? Time will tell. But after today, we certainly feel that we are giving in the right direction.