Monsanto Fund helps provide balanced meals by building capacity for fresh produce at Ontario food banks
Each month in the Canadian province of Ontario, the Ontario Association of Food Banks network provides much needed food to more than 375,000 people – 131,000 of them children. One of the association’s primary goals has been to increase the amount of fresh, healthy food available through food banks so more people can access balanced meals.
In 2014, the Monsanto Fund made a three-year commitment to help the association grow its Community Harvest Ontario program, which sees farmers donate produce including fruit, vegetables and meat to their community food banks. The Monsanto Fund grant goes toward helping food banks build their capacity for storage and distribution of these perishable foods.
In fact, according to the Ontario Association of Food Banks, the grant has helped its members:
- Distribute 961,742 lb of perishable food – a 42% increase over 2013, in just the first six months of the program;
- Develop new partnerships and make significant progress in establishing provincial programs for fresh protein;
- Distribute more than 10,000 lb of fresh turkey to more than 32 direct member agencies who, in turn, serve an addition 230 programs;
- Distribute more than 10,000 lb of pork to Ontario’s hungry across the province; and
- Launch the first capacity building grant for food banks, which members can use to increase the capacity to accept and distribute fresh food to those in need.
Association member The Inn of the Good Shepherd in Sarnia, ON has already gotten to work on providing fresh food to its clients. The Inn developed a “Mobile Market” program to provide fresh fruits and vegetables to food bank clients throughout the city. The Inn’s mobile market truck drives to and sets up a fresh food market at 11 different locations every week, where more than 700 clients and residents access a variety of fresh produce. The produce is provided by local gardens, local farmers and greenhouse growers.
A capacity building grant will enable the Inn to put in a large refrigeration unit, increasing its capacity to supply the mobile market program, reduce spoilage, eliminate the need to turn away donations and increase the variety of produce it can provide.
Collaborating with others to fight global hunger
"Monsanto Canada has been a strong supporter of the Community Growing Project program for almost 20 years, providing annual donations of seed, technology and crop inputs to farmers who volunteer their time to this important work. 2013 was the 30th anniversary of the Canadian Foodgrains Bank and in recognition of this important milestone, John Longhurst, director of resources and public engagement at the Canadian Foodgrains Bank, approached Monsanto Canada about partnering with them on a special project in its anniversary year."
Program gets students “curious” about science
A Monsanto Fund grant provided to Let’s Talk Science is strengthening teacher and student science and technology learning in farming communities and getting them curious about science and its prevalence and impact on our lives.
Let’s Talk Science creates and delivers unique learning programs and services that engage children, youth and educators in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). While based out of London, Ontario, this organization is national in scope. With the support of the Monsanto Fund, its goal is to better engage students in science and technology conversations by providing quality instructional and assessment materials and access to professional learning for teachers and students through an interactive, online learning center called CurioCity.
“The Monsanto Fund grant enables us to build educator confidence in science, engineering, technology and math (STEM),” explains Sara Steers, director, external relations with Let’s Talk Science. “Through the enhancement of our online CurioCity resources, educators gain access to valuable resources and learning strategies that allow them to explore STEM topics in the classroom that are relevant and important to students’ everyday lives.”
The Monsanto Fund initially supported the CurioCity program in 2012 with a grant of $77,000 and extended additional funding of $159,000 to the organization in 2014 to continue to enhance the web-enabled program CurioCity/CurioCité. The project includes the development of teacher resources specific to biotechnology and builds student engagement by offering opportunities for youth to become directly involved in generating content for the CurioCity and participating in citizen science action projects.
“The CurioCity program is terrific because instead of just thinking about how to get kids excited about science, which is obviously important, it also focuses on the teachers and gives them the support, training and tools they need to incorporate complex and complicated scientific subjects into the classroom,” says Trish Jordan, public and industry affairs director at Monsanto Canada. “It’s fine to say, ‘let’s get kids excited about science’ but who is on the front lines trying to do that? It’s the teachers and they need our support. And because CurioCity is an online tool, it reaches those rural teachers and rural students who don’t always have access to resources that expose them to scientific learning.”
Since 1993, Let’s Talk Science has been developing and delivering innovative, hands-on/minds-on learning programs that get children and youth excited about STEM. Every year, Let’s Talk Science mobilizes thousands of university and college students and other science and technology professionals across Canada through the Let’s Talk Science Outreach program. Free of charge, this program reaches students in rural areas with trained volunteers regularly visiting rural classrooms, community groups and hosting large events or summer day camps in many communities across Canada.
Helping students pursue their dreams and explore careers in agriculture
The Monsanto Fund Opportunity Scholarship program gives students from farm families across Canada the chance to secure financial support to help fund their post-secondary education in agriculture or an agriculture-related field.
Each year, 65 scholarships valued at $1,500 are awarded to deserving students from across Canada. And each fall, Monsanto Canada hosts those students, their families and their friends at a recognition banquet were we acknowledge and celebrate their accomplishments.
Students from farm families often have a longer commute to school or have to leave their rural communities altogether to pursue post-secondary education. The scholarship program is just one way the Monsanto Fund can help offset some of the costs associated with housing, transportation, tuition, books, food, supplies and more.
“The Monsanto Fund Opportunity Scholarship Program allows us to give back to farm families and support rural youth who want to pursue an education in agriculture,” explains Trish Jordan, public and industry affairs director with Monsanto Canada. “Agriculture is an exciting and rewarding industry and students are increasingly making the smart choice to pursue a career in agriculture. There are endless and diverse opportunities in the industry and we are happy to support and encourage students who have a passion for agriculture.”
All student applications – which typically number about 200/year – are reviewed by an independent panel of judges who rate each student’s academic record, leadership capabilities, involvement in their community, and the quality of the essay they submit that answers the question, “What area of agriculture do you want to work in and why?”
An additional requirement is a farmer nomination/reference letter that gives a local farmer from the student’s community the chance to speak to the student’s character and why they deserve to be selected as a Monsanto Fund Opportunity Scholarship winner.
Now entering, its 24th year in Canada, the Monsanto Fund Opportunity Scholarship program has awarded well over $1 million to thousands of deserving students since it was first introduced in 1991.
To find out more about the Monsanto Fund Opportunity Scholarship program, check out our Scholarship video or our visit our scholarship page at the links below:
Scholarship page: http://www.monsanto.ca/ourcommitments/Pages/OpportunityScholarship.aspx
Canada’s Farmers Grow Communities
Canada’s Farmers Grow Communities, sponsored by the Monsanto Fund, was introduced in June 2012 to help Canadian farmers support charitable and not-for-profit organizations in farming communities. The program gives eligible farmers the opportunity to register to win $2,500 for a charitable or not-for-profit organization in their community.
While most Canadians are aware of the multitude of large, high-profile charitable organizations doing good work to help those who are less fortunate, the same is not always true in smaller, rural communities.
Local not-for-profit groups and charitable organizations that target specific unmet needs in rural communities often operate with volunteers and they don’t have the same access to financial resources and donations as larger charities. That puts a lot of pressure on local residents to help fund the programs and services offered by these charitable groups.
That’s where Canada’s Farmers Grow Communities is making a difference. And who better to know what community groups could benefit from help than the farmers and their families who live and work in these rural communities?
“Monsanto is committed to helping farmers grow their communities and improve the lives of rural residents,” said Trish Jordan, Public and Industry Affairs Director at Monsanto Canada. “This program allows us to shine the spotlight on farmers and recognize them for the important contributions they make to the quality of life in their communities.”
A unique aspect of the program that encourages broader engagement and participation from other rural residents is an option that allows non-farming community members and potential recipient groups the opportunity to suggest ideas farmers can consider using in their applications. These ideas are posted to an on-line “Idea Map” where farmers can see what groups need help.
Feedback from rural residents indicates the program can make a noticeable difference in the lives of rural residents. Sabrina Aitchison, a farmer from Manitoba, is a previous winner who submitted an application to help support their local nursery school.
“This sort of funding really means a lot to our little nursery school,” said Aitchison. “As farms get larger and small towns get smaller it is hard for little organizations to function but with farmers and others like the Monsanto Fund giving back to the community, it can be done!”
How the Program Works
From January through September annually, farmers across Canada have the opportunity to nominate a local charity or not-for-profit group in their community by visiting www.CanadasFarmers.com. Two $2,500 grants are awarded in each of 30 different territories across the grain growing regions of northeastern BC (Peace River district), Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec.
For complete program details, visit www.CanadasFarmers.com
Dateline Canada: Learning Where Food Comes From
The Made in Manitoba Breakfast program is organized by Agriculture in the Classroom (AITC) – Manitoba, Inc., a non-profit charitable organization that works to connect Canadian teachers and students to agriculture.
The Made in Manitoba Breakfast program travels across Manitoba feeding students full, hot breakfasts made with products from Manitoba farmers. Before each breakfast, the students take part in an education program that helps them explore the agriculture industry and learn where their food comes from.
“The Made in Manitoba Breakfast program is an exciting and engaging way to connect students of all ages to where their food comes from and help them appreciate the fact that farmers in Manitoba are producing a delicious, abundant supply of safe and nutritious food right here in Manitoba,” Trish Jordan, public and industry affairs lead, Monsanto Canada said. “It is a celebration of food, farmers and agriculture!”
Students also learn about possible careers and job opportunities in agriculture. The program changes depending on the grade level, but kids are shown how almost every possible job has a connection to agriculture. AITC works with Faculty of Agriculture Outreach personnel to tailor a program specific to agriculture related careers for high school students, helping them understand the entrance requirements and skills sets required for a career in their chosen field.
The Monsanto Fund has contributed $137,000 to the Made in Manitoba Program, and thanks to a recent grant, AITC was able to expand the program to 30 new rural communities.