A local example: How does it impact our international work?

Hi Everyone,

I must apologise for keeping you all in the lurk. I am sorry I have not been able to blog for the past few weeks. It has been a busy time as the applications for the 2012 SIA trips have been flowing in. Thank you to those who have stayed loyal followers of our blog. I hope to return a more regular schedule.
I decided this week that I would share something with all of you that has more of a local focus. However, although the example is a local concern, many issues of charity and assisting the impoverished are questions that we consider when developing our international projects. In fact, these are discussions that we enter into with our international partners. Such questions should we provide a more diverse program, or should we narrow in and focus on specific areas and communities. Is it better to provide a more wide ranging support and risk not engaging in the complexity of the issues, or provide a more concentrated approach that begins to resolve the more deep seated issues? How do the experiences that we have at home help as with our international work?

This post has been a few days in the making and it began in a usual way. Angus (SIA Board Member) and I were having a regular discussion. We spend many hours debating a variety of issues, from local Economic issues and education, to international development issues. This past week we were discussing a very interesting issue about a sector that becomes increasingly more prominent as we approach the Christmas season, food banks.
One food bank was struggling to maintain the necessary funds to support their customers. As I listened to Angus, I began to imagine how interesting it would be to hear some of the ideas of our attentive blog readers.

This community food program provides food and short term storage and meals for the community. For the past few years one of its supporters has been a local service club. Every year, the local service club provides a monetary donation to be used in capital projects, such as maintaining the facilities, and improving infrastructure, etc. However, this year the community program appealed to the service club to allow them to use the funds for the immediate purchase of food rather than towards capital projects. They indicated that they were struggling to maintain their budget for the coming year. The program, recently, had begun to provide a higher quality and thus more expensive food for the individuals they were feeding. As a result, they were no longer able to afford to assist as many people.

The members of the service club were not in agreement with on another. Some members more sympathetic to the cause argued that the community food program had the right idea of providing a higher quality of food. They felt that the food bank attendees would be better able to function if they we fed more nutritious food. Other members were against the idea. They were surprised that the food program was making a shift to a higher quality of food. They were concerned that as a result of this shift the fod bank was unable to assist the hundreds of people in the community who did not have food.
We have no intention to comment on how a food bank should operate, our work is focused on international issues. However, I thought it was a very appropriate subject to discuss. During the last few years that we have spent working in international community development, I find that we are constantly analysing our work and weighing up the pros and the cons of different development models. As are focus is on ensuring that we are able to assist in a way that will lead to sustainable development.

We are now hoping to hear what you think.

What do you think? Should the food program use their capital funds to cover for their increasing food costs? How sustainable is it to provide this high quality of food? Does it make more sense providing food for as many people as possible or is it a more sound practice to provide the best quality of food for a fewer number of people? Or any other thought you might have.

Please leave a comment and let us know what you think. You can also send me an email at l.shuttleworth@gmail.com.

I look forward to hearing your thoughts.

Have a great weekend.