Church of Jesus Christ, World Food Programme announce joint funding of Caribbean response center
Feb 9, 2024, 3:57 PM | Updated: 3:58 pm
(Kristin Murphy, Deseret News)
SALT LAKE CITY — The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the World Food Programme celebrated 10 years of partnership Thursday by announcing the joint funding of an emergency response hub in the Caribbean.
The church’s donation of $2 million, combined with the World Food Program USA’s $2.3 million, will fund the construction of an emergency response hub in Barbados, which is expected to be completed this summer.
The Caribbean response center will be a location for disaster relief coordination and storage of emergency food and supplies. Organizers say it’s a first-of-its-kind project that will enable more efficient disaster response throughout an area often hit by hurricanes, floods, droughts, and volcanic eruptions.
The church has been partnering with the World Food Programme since 2014, and Relief Society General President Camille Johnson said the partnership is “critically important.”
“The church has prioritized the needs of children and women — those that are most vulnerable — and this collaboration allows us to get to that vulnerable population,” she said. “World Food Programme has boots on the ground that can get resources to places; and with the church’s financial help and the resources we have available — not just money, but also people and talent — we have collaborated beautifully for 10 years and blessed millions of people in that time.”
A facility in the Caribbean will make “a whole difference” for millions of people on 22 islands by providing rapid response to victims of natural disasters, said Lola Castro, World Food Programme’s regional director for Latin America and the Caribbean.
“Last year, the church and (World Food Programme) managed to support 1.6 million people in nine countries of Latin America and the Caribbean thanks to this partnership,” she said. “Together, we reach more people and we are more effective.”
Leaders from both organizations made the announcement at the Bishop’s Central Warehouse in Salt Lake City against the backdrop of over 150 volunteers working together to pack more than 900 boxes of food that will be sent around the U.S. to those in need. Many of the volunteers were young adults from Utah.
University of Utah student Eliza Stewart said serving at the storehouse was an “incredible opportunity.”
“It’s been so fun to be hands-on and to feel like I am actually making a difference. Knowing that this food will go to people who need it and who are wondering where their next meal is coming from, I think, is a great way to help all of us look outside of ourselves and be here for a bigger purpose,” she said.
“I couldn’t be more humble to be here today,” said Barron Segar, CEO of World Food Program USA. “Imagine: 900 families are going to get food because of what we are doing here today.”
“At the World Food Program, we believe that we have to help people here in our backyard as well as our neighbors halfway around the world,” he said. “Food is a basic right, and today we are making sure that local communities have access to food.”
President Johnson said seeing all of the volunteers work together makes her “optimistic for the future.”
“I see all of these young, energetic people who are looking outward,” she said. “I’m joyful when I see these kinds of things happening.”
During this 10-year partnership, the church and World Food Programme have reached 6 million people in 46 countries. Segar said he is grateful for the partnership with the church and that the church is the World Food Programme’s “most important partner.”
“Fewer people are hungry today because of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the World Food Programme,” he said.