International Observance: World Food Day … and a prize

JO LUCK visiting one of the thousands of Heifer International projects around the world.SATURDAY, OCTOBER 16: Since 1979, leaders around the world mark World Food Day each October 16, honoring the establishment of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations in 1945. Since 1986, an independent group also has awarded a World Food Prize. Both observances are focused on raising awareness of the dire need to expand and protect the world’s food resources.

This year, the winners of the prize are David Beckmann of Bread for the World and Jo Luck of Heifer International.

Why Jo Luck & Heifer International Won World Food Prize

Jo Luck of Heifer International.In awarding the 2010 World Food Prize, the Iowa-based non-profit organizers of these honors reports:

Jo Luck has spearheaded the effort to build Heifer International, founded in 1944, into one of the premier hunger-fighting non-profit organizations anywhere in the world, bringing food- and income-producing animals to extremely poor families, guiding them to self-reliance, and providing opportunity for improved livelihoods through animal husbandry, technical training, and community development.

Since becoming CEO of Heifer in 1992, Jo Luck has expanded the scope and impact of its activities throughout Africa, the Americas, Asia and the South Pacific, and Central and Eastern Europe … The result has been a significant increase in support for Heifer projects through donations from households, faith communities, schools, civic groups, and individuals of all ages. The number of steadfast supporters grew from 20,000 in 1992 to more than 500,000 in 2009. The organization’s outreach activities have enabled 12 million families, including 1.5 million families in 2009 alone, to put nutritious food on their own tables and also contribute to feeding others through Heifer’s practice of “Passing on the Gift,” which asks every recipient family to give a female offspring of their animal to another family in need.

Why David Beckmann and Bread for the World Won the Prize

David Beckmann of Bread for the World.The World Food Prize group reports:

David Beckmann is a Lutheran pastor and an economist. First,  through his work at the World Bank and then as head of Bread for the World, he has had a significant impact in shaping international development programs so that they truly reflect the needs of the poorest people in the world, and in mobilizing a grassroots effort for more focused policies and increased appropriations for hunger alleviation by the U.S. government and its partners.

Bread for the World is “a collective Christian voice urging decision makers to end hunger at home and abroad.” Since 1991, as the second president of the organization, Beckmann has marshaled a quarter of a million constituent contacts a year with elected officials through letters, email messages, and meetings. … He has increased Bread’s membership, found in all 435 congressional districts of the United States, from 44,500 to more than 72,500 in the past decade. In addition, through the more than 5,000 local church congregations and 50 national denominations that are counted as members of Bread, more than 1 million Christians have become actively engaged in its advocacy to end hunger.

Another Perspective from Huffington Post

Read Kristi York Wooten’s column on World Food Day and the World Food Prize, which says in part: “World Food Day” and “World Food Prize” may sound like reasons to celebrate the culinary arts or feature contestants from TVs Top Chef series in a bake-off, but these commemorative occasions have little to do with cooking and everything to do with the humanitarian game changers who are working to find solutions to the world’s hunger problem.

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