By Graham Salinger
In the mountainous rural communities of Bolivia, thousands of children receive food through a school feeding program implemented by Samaritan Purse. Samaritan Purse is a faith-based organization that has been working since 1970 to support communities impacted by natural disaster, war, disease, and famine. Through food security programs, Samaritan Purse works to bring nutritious food to impoverished communities while helping them develop economically sustainable agricultural practices.
Samaritan Purse programs help people in regions suffering from food crises. (Photo credit: Samaritan Purse)
In Bolivia, where 23 percent of the population is undernourished, the school feeding program delivers food to72 rural schools while helping farmers who struggle to grow crops. Many children, up to 30 percent in the Chucananqu region, do not have access to milk, eggs, or meat. Through the school feeding program, which purchases food from local businesses, 28,000 children under the age of 14 receive food that is high in protein, fiber, and essential vitamins.
Two of the businesses that supply food for the program were set up by Samaritan Purse. The Andean Grains Processing Center processes local crops that are brought in by local families and then purchased for the feeding program. Samaritan Purse also built a meat processing center that helps local herders sell their food. The Samaritan Purse also trains parents to prepare healthy meals for their children. Through this initiative they created a cookbook with recipes using local food. Samaritan Purse also helps parents track their children’s nutritional health by training more than 580 local volunteers to record the children’s height and weight every month.
Farmers in North Korea, like those in Bolivia, have also worked with Samaritan Purse to reduce the impact of food shortages. In May, Samaritan Purse was one of five aid organizations allowed in the country for the purposes of evaluating North Korea’s food shortage. “About 6 million people are going to be affected with this food shortage,” explained Franklin Graham, a delegate from Samaritan Purse. “They had a terrible winter. The food stocks have dwindled to where they don’t even have enough to get to the next growing season. There is going to be starvation, malnutrition, there will be death,” according to Graham. To help farmers in North Korea, Samaritan Purse supplied emergency aid including more than 2,000 rolls of the agricultural plastic sheeting used for seedbeds.
Similarly, Samaritan Purse helped communities in Niger alleviate hunger during last year’s drought that left millions without food. There, they helped implement a food for work program to help families who had run out of food as a result of low crop yields. The program provided food to men who dug holes that helped collect rain water, stop topsoil erosion, and promote plant growth. Women also received food for planting grass seeds for pastureland that is used by herders.
In addition to its agricultural work, Samaritan Purse works to increase access to clean water through its “turn on the tap” program. The program helps to bring clean water to some of the world’s poorest regions in efforts to fight diseases including dysentery, cholera, typhoid, and meningitis. In the Congo, for example, Samaritan Purse helps build wells to provide clean water to 20,000 people living in villages in the northeast. Each well they dig is estimated to provide clean water for at least 250 people. Similar efforts are underway in Sudan , China, Bolivia, Cambodia, Vietnam, and Iraq.
What do you think of the work that Samaritan Purse is doing? Please let us know in the comments section!
To read more about food aid, see: New report recommends more flexibility in food aid funds, and better coordination of programs, to improve effectiveness and Bringing High-Quality Food Aid Closer to Home.
Graham Salinger is a research intern for the Nourishing the Planet project.