Food For the Hungry

Written by: Madison Berdusco, Photo’s by: Sean McGuire, Design by: Tanya Richards

What is it?

Food for the Hungry (FH) is a Christian humanitarian organization that firmly believes in collaborating with communities to deliver solutions to poverty. They serve over 10 million people in 18 different countries, ensuring that communities have access to the resources needed to reach their full potential.

FH strives to respect the culture of each community they work with, hoping to establish trust to provide the best possible care and solutions to the struggles the community may be facing. FH focuses on creating solutions to specific points in education, agriculture, health, clean water and much more to lift these communities. Efforts are focused specifically on educating the children of the community, and working alongside all community members to ensure the future for all is a bright one.

In 2023 FH made strides for all these communities by helping 538,036 women improve their nutrition for themselves and their families, training 119,728 parents, caregivers and teachers, and helping 28,764 community leaders implement disaster readiness plans. These numbers are just a small glimpse of the wonderful work this organization has done around the globe.

A Q&A with our Vice President:

Our Mission here at Denbow goes far beyond just supplying soil, rock and mulch for your latest projects. We believe in developing people, products and sustainable solutions, and a huge part of this is getting involved within our community and the communities around the globe. Recently, our Vice President, Michelle McEachern and her family went to Cambodia to work alongside Food for the Hungry. She recounts her time there below.

What draws you to the Food for the Hungry non-profit?

“I like the motto of if you teach a man to fish, they will eat forever”. This is how Michelle began her answer to this question, going on to say how she appreciates that FH teaches communities how to do things on their own, rather than coming in and doing it for them. It not only creates long-term solutions, but a sense of empowerment within the communities they serve. Communities will be able to say with pride “I did this” at the accomplishments and strides they make throughout working with FH.

Why do you think it is important for Denbow to be involved in non-profits around the globe?

“Community is one of our core values here”, and for Michelle, this extends beyond what can be found locally. Yes, serving the local community is a priority for her, but the global community being able to benefit from Denbow and its employees is something Michelle is extremely proud of. It is about creating opportunities for employees to be involved. This mindset started with a man named Bernie Wilcox who inspired Michelle to keep employees involved and give them opportunities to grow both personally and professionally.

Did you see the impact of what FH was doing while you were there?

Michelle had the honor to visit the child she was sponsoring, as well as the community they sponsor.  She says that she got to listen to their stories and encourage them to keep up with the incredible work they have been doing to grow their community. She was worried about how foreigners would be seen in this small rural community. She didn’t want the local people to think they were being watched, or that they had to be anything other than their authentic selves. Her worries were quickly washed away when she realized that they were in the right place, helping to encourage the right work. They were not doing FOR them but walking ALONGSIDE them.

This most recent trip was to Cambodia, tell me about your favorite parts of the culture here.

Michelle really got to be immersed in the community culture. Yes, she could have experienced Cambodia’s rich culture by just going to places like Angkor Wat, but being able to be fully in the deeply rooted culture of Cambodia was a treat. She talked about how everyone there has a “if you win, we all win” mindset. Going off of this, she said that there could be someone with a store, and then a similar store down the road. Here, that would be an opportunity for competition, but in Cambodia it was an opportunity to build the community. Regardless of how well each store does, they support the other one and are proud when others do well. “It’s not a ‘just out for myself’ kind of place”, said Michelle.

How did it feel for you to get to share this experience with your sons?

While Michelle loves getting to share experiences like this with her employees, she stated that it was a particularly great experience being able to bring along her sons. She said that it was powerful to watch them engage in the community. She always gets that sense of pride, even if it is her employees and not her sons, but this was different. She knew she was raising passionate kids, who will grow up to do incredible things, and making memories that will last a lifetime with her family.

Tell me about your favorite moment from this trip.

During this trip, Michelle got to visit a local school where she was greeted at the front by a leadership team of students. These students walked her around the grounds, showing her the garden and the school project they had been working on to help the local area reduce garbage. The next day, they went to an after-school program to see it in action. Once they left the program, they came outside to be greeted by a group of girls from the school they were at the day before. These girls were so excited to see them, giving them hugs and saying, “we are so happy to see you again”. Michelle got to learn their aspirations, and admired how career focused they were. Most of them want to be teachers, some want to be nurses. She said it was such a great experience and puts a smile on her face every time she thinks about it.

What did you find most important about the work FH does?

Michelle is most impressed with FH’s “Teaching Cascading Effect”, which truly works to change a community by working with its members. An example of a Teaching Cascading Effect would be teaching a community leader how to build a house, and that community leader teaches 10 people who then each teach 10 people. Soon the village has a group of 100 people who know how to build a house, and beautiful homes start popping up everywhere. These are homes built by the community, for the community. It is an incredible effect, but one that is a journey. FH will start working with leaders of communities a year prior to coming in and helping. They will ask these leaders what they want to see happen for their villages, and give them the implementation tools to do so, all while teaching them how to make these things happen. After this, FH will walk alongside them and help implement plans for 10 years. This creates long-lasting effects and self-sufficient communities that can be incredibly proud of what they’ve done.

Where do you believe Denbow, and FH’s missions align?

Denbow and Food for the Hungry both believe in being for the betterment of people, Michelle says. For FH, it’s the betterment of communities, for Denbow, it’s their employees. They both believe in providing a safe place for people to grow and learn. Denbow loves being able to offer experiences like this for their employees, giving them a chance to see the world and give back to communities. It provides lifelong memories and a sense of pride within the workplace.

So… what’s next?

Denbow is incredibly proud of its ability to provide for communities both locally and globally. We love the work we get to do with Food for the Hungry so much that we plan to continue this annually. Next year we are looking at a trip to Guatemala with FH, and then back to Cambodia the year after. We truly hope to continue to make an impact with this incredible organization.

If you would like to learn more about Food for the Hungry, click here to visit their website!