Reverend Joan Fumetti and Ron De Weerd
Rev. Joan Fumetti and Ron De Weerd received the 2016 Iowa SHARES Award for their leadership role in building the Iowa Foods Resource Bank (FRB) program into the leading element of one of the most dynamic and innovative agricultural assistance programs in America.
Created in 1999, the genius of FRB is its ability to link agricultural producers and farmers in the United States directly to poor smallholder farmers around the globe. The key concept is known as a “growing project” in which a U.S. producer, or group of producers, pledge a portion of their crop (or other element of agricultural production) to this program. The money generated from the sale of that portion of the crop is then distributed through FRB to 16 highly effective private development agencies that are implementing projects in remote villages in 30 different countries where such assistance is most badly needed.
FRB reports that over the last two decades this effort has raised over $47 million across America. FRB has already impacted 1 million people and has begun work on the "next million."
Of that nationwide fundraising total more than $6.7 million has been raised by Iowans, mostly through “growing projects.” With more than 150 farmers involved, 1,000 volunteers are also estimated to be participating. As a result of this funding, FRB reports that approximately 140,000 people of that one million total were assisted by funds raised in Iowa. Marv Baldwin, President and CEO of Foods Resource Bank confirmed that Iowa is the leading state in America in terms of supporting this international assistance effort.
Over the past two decades, Rev. Fumetti and Mr. De Weerd were the leading element of the FRB effort, working at the community and individual farm level recruiting Iowa agricultural producers and church congregations to form action groups to raise the money to fund projects. In conversations with World Food Prize staff, senior FRB national officials placed Iowa at the very top in terms of funds generated and overseas projects supported in the United States. They credited a significant part of this success to the commitment and hard work of our two 2016 Iowa SHARES recipients--Joan Fumetti and Ron De Weerd.
“Foods Resource Bank was just starting its operations at the same time I returned home to Iowa to take over leadership of the World Food Prize,” President of the World Food Prize Ambassador Quinn said. “In those early days I went out with FRB leaders to see one of the very first community “growing projects” that had been formed. It struck me at the time as being an inspired approach. Iowa farmers rightfully state that they feed the world. Working through FRB, they are also uplifting the poorest smallholder farmers in the most challenging situations halfway around the globe. For their role in leading this impressive endeavor, Joan Fumetti and Ron De Weerd are truly deserving of receiving the Robert D. Ray Iowa SHARES Humanitarian Award.”