Cow Donation Group, Hunger Program Take World Food Prize

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"Give me to someone who needs me..." (Photo: BinaryApe/Creative Commons)

Want to fight hunger? Give someone a cow. No, seriously.

Sounds funny, but that’s the guiding principal of the hunger- and poverty-fighting group Heifer International, which recently took home one of the 2010 World Food Prize awards, along with Bread for the World, a faith-based anti-hunger advocacy group. 

Announced by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in mid-June, the awards shed light on a program of almost head-smacking simplicity—giving cows to subsistence farmers—and puzzling logistical difficulty... because, how do you donate a live, fully grown cow to a needy family in Southeast Asia?

Well, that’s Heifer International’s job. The group accepts pledges toward buying livestock for needy families, then facilitates the purchase and distribution of the animals to the people who need them all around the world. Heifer International also, interestingly, performs the same service in the U.S. for small farmers and Native American communities.

The program also utilizes a “Passing on the Gift” clause, in which recipients pledge to donate some offspring of their livestock to others in need, to keep the initiative growing on a grassroots level.

The term “livestock” is actually more applicable than "cow." Heifer International actually facilitates the donation of many kinds of animals, depending on the need and region. Sheep. Pigs. Goats. And, perhaps most notably, water buffalo.

The donations range from the cute (a flock of chicks) to the unexpected (bees, rabbits), and are available at a number of price levels for anyone looking to donate.

Heifer International’s CEO Joy Luck accepted the award and praise from Clinton at a Washington D.C. ceremony—check out video of the announcement here

Luck’s group will split the $250,000 prize with Bread for the World’s David Beckmann.

Beckmann’s group promotes public and political initiatives aimed at fighting hunger with the target of bringing food aid to large numbers of people. Along with founding the U.S. Alliance to End Hunger, Beckmann is credited with widely expanding Bread for the World’s membership and influence. The group now has about 72,500 members.

Photo: BinaryApe/Creative Commons via Flickr

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