In August, we announced our decision not to exhibit at the 2021 Specialty Coffee Expo in response to the ongoing global COVID-19 pandemic. This decision provided us the opportunity to find another way to connect with the international coffee community, and we shared our intention to donate a portion of our Expo budget to select non-profit organizations working in the coffee sector which impact coffee producers, their families, and their communities. Following a period of research and deliberation about which non-profit organizations align most closely with our purpose as a company, we’re proud to announce that we have selected three organizations which are having significant impact in coffee producing communities around the world. We’re thrilled to share these organizations with you, including the work that they’re accomplishing already, continuing with our final organization: Food 4 Farmers.
About Food 4 Farmers
Food 4 Farmers is a non-profit NGO working to address food insecurity in coffee producing communities. Research completed in Nicaragua, Guatemala, and Mexico by the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) revealed that “even producers who receive fair trade premiums suffer a period of food insecurity ranging from one to seven months of the year – every year,” and that 67% of the farmers interviewed experience extreme food scarcity for 3–8 months each year. Food 4 Farmers creates long-term, effective solutions to food insecurity by diversifying on-farm income, adapting to climate change, improving gender equity, and strengthening livelihoods and access to fresh, locally grown food for farming families and their communities in Colombia, Guatemala, Mexico, and Nicaragua.
Food 4 Farmers collaborates with coffee farming communities to co-design and develop strategies that are suited to each community’s needs and priorities. Their approach focuses on developing their partners’ capacity to develop, manage, and build food security locally. The organization works primarily with coffee cooperatives and community-based organizations to develop these programs and the capacity to sustain them. To do so, Food 4 Farmers has a set of core activities it uses with every partner:
- Capacity Assessment - Each partnership begins by assessing the organizational capacity of new partners to identify strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities, providing important information for the development of strategies with a strong likelihood of success.
- Community Diagnosis - This process includes farmers, their families, co-op staff and Board members, bringing together voices from across the community to understand the level of need, the characteristics of the area, and the challenges to achieving healthy and sustainable livelihoods.
- Plugging in Partners to Implement Strategies - Food 4 Farmers connects partner communities with local and regional organizations with a track record of success whose mission and approach match with the communities’ needs and goals.
- Monitoring & Evaluation - Monitoring and evaluation of the programs in each community is tailored to the community itself. Information about what’s working and any adjustments needed in order to achieve long-term success is utilized by the farming families and co-ops managing each program locally.
- Building on Progress Over Time - Following the completion of each project, Food 4 Farmers continues to work with their community partners in an advisory capacity to support progress and address challenges as program participants find new ways to build on their successes.
What Work is Food 4 Farmers Doing Today?
Food 4 Farmers’ approach is built around four key themes:
- Agroecology - Promoting farming practices which exist in harmony with nature is crucial to protecting people and the environment as sustainable food systems are developed.
- Local Knowledge - Success and longevity in these community programs centers around local leadership and ownership. Food 4 Farmers focuses on education and skill development to ensure that farming communities have the tools to independently lead the way to healthy food systems and new business ventures.
- Female Empowerment - Gender equity can be a challenge in rural communities, but by empowering women with the tools and knowledge to grow healthy food and develop business skills, they help the community succeed.
- Youth Opportunity - Food 4 Farmers’ Community Promoter program offers professional development and leadership to young people in coffee farming communities, paving the way to opportunities for their futures. The organization also works with 2,600 students across 13 elementary schools to teach them to grow, eat, and appreciate healthy food through school gardens.
The organization’s commitment to these themes is clearly exemplified by their recent work with SOPPEXCCA, Maya Ixil, and COMEPCAFE cooperatives in Nicaragua, Guatemala, and Colombia. These co-ops are planting nearly 100,000 trees, shrubs, and melliferous (nectar producing) plants across 580 coffee farms, producing fresh food for people in the communities, strengthening bee and other critical pollinator populations, providing income through beekeeping programs, and restoring native forest systems to build climate resistance in rural farming communities. This represents only part of the work being done by Food 4 Farmers in each of these communities, which also host programs like the school gardens overseen by SOPPEXCCA in Jinotega, Nicaragua.
We’re proud to know that our donation will help support Food 4 Farmers to add at least 25 new coffee producing families to their home garden program, adding gardens to their farms and providing materials, training, and ongoing support from local co-op community promoters.
Learn More About Food 4 Farmers
Visit the Food 4 Farmers website to learn more about the organization, their work, and their impact.