150+ Canadians Day 15: C. Wilbert Loewen

Photo of Wilbert by foodgrainsbank.ca

Wilbert Loewen contributed to peace by playing a vital role in the establishment of the Canadian Foodgrains Bank (CFGB). #Canada150

Loewen traveled across Canada growing support from Canadian farmers, negotiating an agreement with the Canadian Wheat Board, which helped expand the program.

Building on the vision of the Mennonite Central Committee (MCC), the Canadian Foodgrains Bank was established as a separate organization in 1983 to facilitate the participation of other churches and church agencies in the program.

As the CFGB’s first executive director (1983-1990), he helped it become one of the world’s largest private food-aid providers dedicated to famine relief and ending world hunger. This involved his successful negotiations with the Canadian Wheat Board (CWB), to allow farmers to deliver and donate grain outside of the quota system to CWB handling facilities, and with the Canadian International Development Agency, to agree to match every CFGB donation on a four-to-one basis. A mark of the solid foundation he developed, by 2005 the CFGB had provided more than 944,000 tons of food to more than 68 countries.

Loewen’s vision and hard work played a vital role in building a solid foundation for the development of the Foodgrains Bank into one of Canada’s leading agencies dealing with global hunger.  In 2010, Loewen was the recipient of the Order of Manitoba, the province’s highest honor, largely because of the vital role he played in the establishment of the Foodgrains Bank.  Today, the Foodgrains Bank is providing over $40 million in annual assistance around the world, providing food where it is needed, and supporting the efforts of households and communities to improve their farming, livelihoods and nutrition. In 2015, over one million people were assisted in 39 countries.