- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 14, 2022

Leaders of the Mormon church have announced a donation of $32 million to the U.N. World Food Programme relief agency to aid in the looming hunger crisis worldwide.

The agency has previously said the world faces a “seismic hunger crisis” after years of the COVID-19 pandemic, global climate shifts and the disruption of grain exports from Russia and Ukraine following the Feb. 24 invasion of the latter by Vladimir Putin’s forces.

“We are so grateful to collaborate with the World Food Programme because we know they will get food to those who need it most,” Bishop L. Todd Budge, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints‘ (LDS) Presiding Bishopric leadership council, said. “… Such giving makes God’s children a little happier and all of us a little holier.”

People in nine nations —  Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Haiti, Kenya, Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen — will benefit from the donation, a cohort numbering 1.6 million of what the church called the world’s “most vulnerable people.”

WFP Executive Director David Beasley said in a statement the LDS donation “could not come at a more critical time.” 

According to a church statement, an estimated 345 million people “face acute food insecurity” worldwide. The group estimates 50 million people are at risk of famine. “Without immediate action, some 60 million children will be at risk of acute malnourishment by the end of 2022.”

“My heart rejoices for the millions of malnourished children who will benefit from this donation,” added Sister Camille N. Johnson, global leader of the faith’s Relief Society, an organization for women. 

The WFP donation springs from an eight-year relationship between the two groups. The church operates a massive farming, packaging and distribution network for grains, general foodstuffs and meat. Church officials said they donated 80 million pounds of food to emergency response operations in 2021.

Last year, church leaders told the Deseret News, a church-owned newspaper, that the church had doubled its humanitarian spending from 2016 and now gave “nearly $1 billion in combined humanitarian and welfare aid.”

Wednesday’s donation is funded in part through the church’s ‘fast offering,’ where members skip two meals each month and donate the cost for humanitarian relief.

• Mark A. Kellner can be reached at mkellner@washingtontimes.com.

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