Church of Jesus Christ gives $32 million for food crisis, its largest humanitarian contribution ever

Bishop L. Todd Budge, right, of the Presiding Bishopric presented a $32 million donation to World Food Program USA President and CEO Barron Segar, left, and WFP Deputy Executive Director Ute Klamert, center, on Wednesday at the World Food Program headquarters in Rome . (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints)

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SALT LAKE CITY — The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints made its largest one-time contribution to a humanitarian organization ever — $32 million to the United Nations World Food Program to help fight the current global food crisis.

The World Food Program will use the funds to provide food and critical assistance to nine countries, affecting 1.6 million of the most vulnerable people being “driven to the brink of starvation” because of global conflict and the brutal natural disasters that come with climate change.

The nine countries—Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Haiti, Kenya, Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen—are located in what the organization calls a “ring of fire,” stretching through the Central American Dry Corridor to Central and Northwestern Africa and the Middle East.

Bishop L. Todd Budge, second counselor of the church’s Presiding Bishopric, presented the donation to World Food Program USA President and CEO Barron Segar and Deputy Executive Director of Partnerships and Advocacy Ute Klamert at the organization’s headquarters in Rome on Wednesday.

“We are so grateful to collaborate with the World Food Program because we know they will get food to those who need it most,” Bishop Budge said in a statement from the church. “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 happy and all of us a little holy.”

The WFP is the world’s largest humanitarian organization. Its mission is to “(save) lives in emergencies and use food assistance to build a pathway to peace, stability and propserity for people recovering from conflict, disasters and the impact of climate change.” In Somalia, the program has given record levels of humanitarian assistance to stave off projected famine, and in Yemen, it has provided food assistance for more than half of the country’s population.

Because of climate disasters, the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on the global economy, the war in Ukraine and other conflicts worldwide, a record 345 million people are facing severe food insecurity, with 50 million “on the brink of famine,” according to the WFP’s website.

“At this time of unprecedented global need, we are grateful for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ transformational gift,” Segar said in a statement. “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. I am confident that the church’s gift will inspire others to join our movement to end global hunger.”

“We accept this generous donation with gratitude and firm confidence in our ability to use it to deliver food for the most vulnerable, reaching them in their time of need, helping lift them out of harm’s way, so they can survive and build resilience,” Klamert added.

The Church of Jesus Christ typically gives around $1 billion annually in global humanitarian efforts, according to a statement from the church. The Church of Jesus Christ’s collaboration with WFP began in 2014. WFP Executive Director David Beasley toured the church’s welfare operations in Salt Lake City in 2019; the two organizations worked together to fill hunger gaps during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“My heart rejoices for the millions of malnourished children who will benefit from this donation,” added Sister Camille N. Johnson, president of the faith’s Relief Society, a global organization for women. “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 Program and to all who contribute in any way to this cause.”

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Jenny Rollins is a freelance journalist based in Utah and a former KSL.com reporter. She has a bachelor’s degree from Brigham Young University and a master’s degree in journalism from Boston University.

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