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BGMIn March 2020, the world entered a time of pause. For some people, the earth seemed to echo a sigh of relief. But stomachs continued to grumble, rain steadily beat down upon roofs made of mud or junkyard scraps and pill bottles drained empty. Galette Chambon and Thoman, two Haitian communities, were no exception to the landslide caused by COVID-19. Thankfully, these two poverty-ridden places’ retaining wall halted the landslide. For nearly ten years, But God Ministries (BGM) has provided Galette Chambon and Thoman with sustainable resources. These resources include water wells, medical and dental clinics, schools, housing and various job opportunities to support the local community. Unfortunately, since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, many of these resources have not been readily available.

Food Insecurity in Haiti

One of the major needs plaguing the six million Haitians who live below the poverty line is a lack of food. During the school year, BGM feeds 16,000 children each day. Once schools shut down, food was no longer accessible to these children. Additionally, the country was in a state of civil unrest and facing a drought, worsening the situation. Since 2015, Haiti has faced the onset of economic blows including a decrease in foreign aid, depreciation of the national currency and the natural disaster of Hurricane Matthew. However, the cherry on top was the closure of local markets due to the pandemic, which heightened the crisis. Rather than sit back and watch the nation plummet, BGM took action by conducting a Food For Life campaign. Stan Buckley, the founder of But God Ministries, spoke with The Borgen Project about the campaign’s success. He said, “We raised $90,000 in a week. So far, we have given away $75,000 in food distributions.”

But God Ministries’ Response to the Pandemic

A major source of revenue for But God Ministries came from American teams who partnered with the ministry. Without funding from visiting groups, BGM had to cut back on the salaries of their Haitian employees. A positive outcome, according to Buckley, is the number of houses BGM has the opportunity to build in the community during this time. A portion of the people who planned on spending part of their summer in Haiti chose to donate the money they would have spent on travel to the organization’s housing fund. Buckley said, “We have the funds in place for 16 houses, and we have built around five so far.” He also noted that the civil unrest has died down due to the coronavirus. If this trend continues, the country will be on an uphill climb toward a successful economic and sustainable future.

Haitian Economy

Self-sufficiency is contingent upon the physical state of the nation. Unfortunately, over 96% of Haitians experience natural disasters. In 2010, Haiti’s economic and concrete landscape was shaken to the ground by an earthquake. Many countries forgave Haiti of its debt. However, the country’s clean slate quickly became tainted. By 2017, Haiti had accumulated $2.6 billion in debt. In concordance with the national debt, Haiti’s clothing export rose to new heights. As of 2016, the apparel register accounted for more than 90% of Haiti’s exports, further sustaining the nation.

Sustainability is But God Ministries’ overarching goal. “One of our goals is to have Haitians leading in every area …, and that’s a process. We have a Haitian preacher, Haitian principals and teachers, Haitian builders …, and the list goes on,” said Buckley. Right now, Thoman produces electricity through sustainable solar panels, which happened through a partnership with Georgia Tech. Hopefully, Galette Chambon will follow this precedent. Electricity is a major barrier standing in the way of Haiti’s progression. According to the CIA, investing in Haiti is difficult due to the lack of electrical reliability and weak infrastructure.

Without financial and resourceful investment from neighboring countries, it will be exceedingly difficult for Haiti to enter a state of self-sufficiency. However, the work of organizations like But God Ministries provides an example for others who wish to help the country emerge from the pandemic better than it was before.

Chatham Rayne Kennedy
Photo: Flickr

Fighting World Hunger
Vegans are often the butt of every joke in pop culture, from comments on their hair and hygiene to their fondness for eating “rabbit food.” Yet, vegans are more than their food choices; veganism is a form of activism. This article will explore five vegan groups fighting world hunger.

Veganism and Global Hunger

Plants produce 9.46 quadrillion calories each year, enough to feed every human 2,700 calories a day for a year, with 2 quadrillion calories leftover. If this is the case, why do people go hungry? Unfortunately, humans only consume a little over half of these calories, with 36% going to animal feed and 9% to industry. This leaves humans with only 5.6 trillion calories — well below the amount necessary to solve world hunger. When consuming animals, a staggering 89% of calories of these plant calories disappear when humans consume animals secondarily.

Moreover, animal-based diets require 1,000% more crop growth than plant-based diets. Moving to a plant-based diet creates 70% more room to grow crops, and, even accounting for population growth, could bring an end to global hunger.

Fortunately, many activism groups are working to fight global hunger and poverty while serving healthy vegan meals. Here are five vegan groups fighting world hunger.

5 Vegan Groups Fighting World Hunger

  1. Food Not Bombs: Anti-nuclear activists founded Food Not Bombs in 1980 in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Their goal was to spark an anti-violence movement against war, poverty, food waste and global hunger through education, protests and providing individuals with meals from recovered food waste. The organization feeds people in 1,000 cities in 65 countries around the world. Food Not Bombs believes that food is a right, not a privilege.
  2. World Central Kitchen: World Central Kitchen uses food to empower communities and provide relief during difficult times. Jose Andrews and his wife founded the organization to cook meals, including vegan and vegetarian ones, for those suffering from hunger abroad. The organization works by giving women in other countries access to cooking supplies, training chefs in Haiti to cook and providing healthy meals to families in need. WCK does international frontline work during natural disasters, providing over 3.7 million meals to victims of Hurricane Maria in 2o17.
  3. Food Empowerment Project: Lauren Ornelas, a woman of color, founded Food Empowerment Project as a way to educate people about making ethically sustainable food choices. Among fighting for animal rights, Food Empowerment Project also fights for racial equality, poverty reduction and environmental justice. By making ethically sustainable food choices, people can prevent deaths and empower those with fewer resources. Through its website, Food Empowerment Project provides the public with education about veganism, including access to sustainable, vegan recipes.
  4. Food for Life: In 1974, the founder of Srila Prabhupada told his yoga students to begin serving food to the hungry, believing that “No one within ten miles of a temple should go hungry.” From there, his yoga students began creating food kitchens around the world, creating the basis for Food for Life. The organization aims to promote Vedic values of equality by giving vegan meals to those in need and during times of crisis. To date, volunteers have served over 6 million meals since the organization’s start, amounting to nearly 20 tons of vegan food.
  5. Vegans Against World Hunger: Helen Wright and Julian Wilkinson founded Vegans Against World Hunger in 2019 as a way to fight global poverty and hunger through vegan meals in the U.K and abroad. The nonprofit works to create food forests that provide food stability, combat deforestation and establish food banks around the globe. While it is a new organization, Vegans Against World Hunger has a bright future ahead.

These vegan groups fighting world hunger show that vegans around the world are using their plant-based diets to help solve one of the quintessential issues facing the world today: global hunger. While the transition to a completely plant-based diet brings challenges, scientists see that it could be a step forward in fighting global poverty and hunger through ethical and sustainable food choices.

Breanna Bonner
Photo: Pixabay