In its largest one-time donation to a humanitarian organization to date, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints gave $32 million to the United Nations World Food Programme.
The donation will help provide food and critical assistance to 1.6 million people in nine countries.
Bishop L. Todd Budge, second counselor in the Presiding Bishopric, presented the donation during a visit Wednesday, Sept. 14, to the World Food Programme headquarters in Rome, Italy.
“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 Budge said. “And we thank Latter-day Saints and friends of the faith whose financial sacrifices have made this gift possible. Such giving makes God’s children a little happier and all of us a little holier.”
World Food Programme is the world’s largest humanitarian organization, working on the frontlines of crises for more than 60 years. World Food Programme executive director David Beasley said the “extraordinary donation” from the Church could not come at a more critical time.
“With millions of people starving today, WFP is working hard to deliver food, help and hope — and this life-saving contribution allows us to do just that,” Beasley said.
According to the announcement on ChurchofJesusChrist.org, the Church’s funds will help the most vulnerable people in the following countries: Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Haiti, Kenya, Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen.
Conflict, economic shocks, lingering impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, weather extremes and other factors are pushing millions of people in countries across the world into poverty and hunger. The World Food Programme reports that a record 345 million people face acute food insecurity today, with 50 million on the brink of famine.
The Global Network Against Food Crises — which consists of the United Nations, the European Union, and other nongovernmental agencies — defines acute food insecurity as, “when a person’s inability to consume adequate food puts their lives or livelihoods in immediate danger.”
In June, the World Food Programme and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations issued a stark warning of multiple looming food crises, saying price spikes for food and fuel are driving nations closer to instability across the globe.
World Food Program USA president and CEO Barron Segar accepted the Church’s donation in Rome and thanked the Church for the “transformational gift” at a time of unprecedented global need.
“Private sector support is critical to our mission, enabling WFP to scale food assistance and resilience work that brings families stability and comfort during these challenging times,” Segar said. “I am confident that the Church’s gift will inspire others to join our movement to end global hunger.”
Said Relief Society General President Camille N. Johnson: “My heart rejoices for the millions of malnourished children who will benefit from this donation. Jesus has a tender heart for children. He weeps to see them starve. And He rejoices at even the smallest effort to help them. A huge thanks to the World Food Programme and to all who contribute in any way to this cause.”
World Food Programme began collaborating with the Church in 2014. In 2016 then-President Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, who was then serving as the second counselor in the First Presidency, presented a $3 million donation in Rome from the Church to WFP. In 2019, Beasley toured the Bishops’ Central Storehouse and Welfare Square and met with Church representatives in Salt Lake City. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the two organizations worked together to respond to global food needs.
The Church’s humanitarian efforts
This particular donation carries on a decades-old priority of the Church to care for those in need. The Church gives around $1 billion annually to care for those in need around the world.
As Bishop Budge told the Church News in a recent interview, “The humanitarian outreach of the Church is given without regard to race, nationality, religion, sexual orientation, or any of those things, the labels that tend to divide us. We reach out to everyone — all of God’s children — because God loves them all.”
He explained that one of the scriptures in the Doctrine and Covenants is that men should be anxiously engaged in a good cause and do many things of their own free will and choice — and members live that principle.
The 2021 annual report outlined 3,909 humanitarian projects in 188 countries, an increase from the previous year. This outreach included $906 million from the Church and 6.8 million hours of volunteer work by everyday Latter-day Saints.
Presiding Bishop Gérald Caussé said helping others and reaching out to the people in need is really at the heart of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
“We wouldn’t be the Church of Jesus Christ if we did not follow or strive to follow His example every day,” Bishop Caussé said. “One of the things that He showed us to do is love our neighbor as ourselves. He taught us about the two great commandments, to love God and love our neighbor. And these are our brothers and sisters all around the world.”