Canadian Foodgrains Bank bridges urban-rural divide

You don’t want to mess with church ladies.

They’re effective, efficient, dynamic and righteous.

They get things done.

So, I’ve been pleased in recent years to see the social crusaders at my church, mostly women, getting behind Canadian Foodgrains Bank efforts to boost Canada’s overseas food and agriculture aid.

The organization is often mentioned in our bulletin, which is distributed along with the order-of-service, and for the past couple of weeks some of our most social-justice-oriented members have been standing behind a table loaded with foodgrains bank information. You won’t get within 20 feet of that table without being told you should sign a postcard to the prime minister requesting more support for the sorts of initiatives that the foodgrains bank operates. After Ruth got to me, I signed the card, as did my wife.

“As you decide how much Canada contributes toward ending global poverty, please remember that I care,” reads the card.

This sort of commitment to the foodgrains bank might not strike you as surprising, considering that it is a key charity in farming areas. But I go to a church in central Winnipeg, and there isn’t likely anybody there on your average Sunday who has been directly involved in growing a crop or raising livestock in the preceding week.

A lot of farm folk don’t realize how successful the foodgrains bank has been in bridging the urban-rural divide.

I popped up a poll on Twitter asking farmers and rural people how much they thought urbanites knew about the organization.

Most people thought that “almost nothing” summed up the situation. Although I know only my own church, I suspect farmers’ efforts through the foodgrains bank to make a difference in fighting world hunger is better known in the city than many farmers believe.

Somehow, the organization has managed to achieve something that has frustrated so many in the farming, agriculture and rural communities: successfully bridging the urban-rural divide. It’s something everybody in agriculture could learn from.

Why does it work? The sense I get is that the foodgrains banks’s motivations seem righteous, its commitment seems sincere, and it seems to have identified something that is core to the Canadian identity: we work hard, in a country of abundance, and we are willing to put some of that effort into helping others share in that hard-earned abundance.

The rural-urban divide sometimes seems unbridgeable, and getting wider, but that little table in the narthex of my church shows me that it’s not impossible to connect the two cultures.

If you can win over the social justice crew at my church, there might be more uniting the two worlds than it appears.

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