When the devastating earthquake struck Haiti on January 12, one hunger relief organization was already there on-site. With a warehouse near Port-au-Prince that had been restocked with several hundred thousand meals just days before the quake erupted, Convoy of Hope was on the ground and ready to help immediately.
Convoy of Hope is a nonprofit organization that helps feed the hungry both in the U.S. and throughout the world. In the first two weeks following the quake, Convoy was able to distribute 1.6 million meals to the hungry and displaced people of Haiti.
_To learn how you can contribute, visit convoyofhope.org
Haiti is generally recognized as the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, and that’s one of the reasons the hunger relief organization has a large warehouse located there. Convoy of Hope also has warehouses in Kenya, El Salvador, and the Philippines.
Jeff Nene, Senior Director of Communications & Technology for Convoy, says the organization has an ongoing presence in Haiti. He explained that they work with schools there to provide daily lunch for 11,000 needy Haitian school children. Across the world, Convoy feeds 21,000 children everyday throughout the school year, Nene says.
Scroll down to view video of our interview with Jeff Nene (pictured, right)
The organization ties the school food distribution program to school achievement results, Nene says. â€˜In order for us to get grants for the food, we need to see that the children are making progress, in terms of good grades and attendance, and that their physical well-being is being taken care of,â€™ he says. â€˜For Haiti to make progress as a country, it starts with children and education, and we’ve being seeing good results.â€™
Like Manna from Heaven
Convoy of Hope has been working closely with the organization Feed My Starving Children, to get food and pure drinking water to the quake victims. The food distributed comes mostly in the form of something called Manna Packs (as in â€˜manna from heavenâ€™). It’s a Ã¢â‚¬Ëœjust-add-water’ product that contains fortified rice, soy protein, dried vegetables and chicken flavoring. One little Manna Pack bag makes six meals. The product is specially formulated to nourish people on starvation diets, Nene says.
Convoy of Hope receives donations from everywhere, including other charity organizations, church groups, and, of course, individual donors. Recently, Nene notes, Convoy received a generous donation from the pop music trio, the Jonas Brothers. â€˜They have something like 1.2 million followers on Twitter (Twitter.com/JonaSBrothers),â€™ Nene says. â€˜They mentioned us in a tweet to their followers and there was such a response our web site crashed for about an hour.â€™
Turning $1 into $7
Cash donations, Nene says, are really the best way to contribute. â€˜For every dollar we receive we turn into about $7 worth of food and water for the hungry. The food and water is mostly donated to us from manufacturers and food vendors. The cash donations allow us to ship food and supplies into the countryâ€”airlifting is extremely expensive,â€™ he explains.
Nene takes pride in Convoy’s track record. Charity watchdog group Charity Navigator has given Convoy of Hope its 4-star rating, the highest possible, for 6 straight years, based on the relief organization’s record of efficiency and financial integrity. â€˜In our last fiscal year, for every dollar donated to our organization, 93 cents of it made it into the field,â€™ Nene says.
Nene emphasizes that the situation in Haiti remains dire. â€˜It’s been said that this recovery will be measured not in months, but years,â€™ he notes. Nene has seen enough to know that’s an accurate assessment.
For more information on Convoy of Hope, or to learn how to make a donation, you may visit the web site.
Click here for more information on some of the food companies involved in Haiti hunger relief efforts.
VIDEO INTERVIEW WITH JEFF NENE