FRB’s Bev Abma nominated for World Food Prize

FRB’s Bev Abma nominated for World Food Prize

Bev Abma, FRB’s longtime Executive Director of Overseas Programming, got a big surprise at her August 10, 2013 retirement celebration in Byron Center MI.  Foods Resource Bank had nominated her for the prestigious World Food Prize (WFP) for 2013, in the areas of nutrition, rural development, social organization, and poverty elimination.  The prize is awarded each year to persons who become role models for advancing human development by improving the quality, quantity or availability of food in the world. Doesn’t that fit Bev Abma to a T?

FRB sent the nomination to WFP for consideration on May 1. On June 19 we learned that Bev had not been named as this year’s laureate but was still in the running for the next two years. Staff and supporters decided to try to keep the nomination a secret from her in order to share the news with Bev and her friends and admirers all at once at her retirement. It was a challenge not to say anything to her about the nomination, but the many colleagues who had contributed words of praise for Bev in the supporting documentation did an exemplary job of keeping the news under wraps. Bev’s look of astonishment as she received the keepsake copy of the nomination materials made it clear that it was an utter surprise to her.   

When asked later for her reaction to news of the nomination, Bev said, “"What an overwhelming and humbling experience to be so honored by so many for doing what brings so much joy to me:  learning from the wisdom of people living in grassroots communities around the world. They have taught me so much about the difference between information, knowledge and wisdom. What a reminder that God can use anyone, even a clumsy farm kid from western Canada, in ways I would have never dreamed possible – the honor belongs to Him!"

FRB’s nomination cited Bev’s influence on FRB and other organizations which strive to ensure a nutritious and sustainable food supply for all people. Her quiet but powerful example has changed the way many look at and implement food security programming, moving from top-down and directive to inclusive and holistic. The nomination further noted that if Bev won The World Food Prize it would place before others her clear, humane, just and holistic vision and practical experience in helping the poor help themselves sustainably.

Bev encourages culturally appropriate approaches to programming in the world's least-served areas.  Her unique experience, ability, and attitude make clear that, while everyone may want fast results, the more lasting outcomes come from deeper understanding of the holistic nature of the food security needs of any community. Participatory processes encourage ownership and sustainability in the long run.

Bev has dedicated her life to food security for the poor, and indeed fits World Food Prize founder Dr. Norman Borlaug’s call for “individuals whose work has truly made a difference in the lives and well-being of large numbers of people.” Over a million primary FRB beneficiaries, and untold numbers of their neighbors and kin, have increased their ability to grow food, overcome malnutrition, earn income, save money, protect their natural resources, advocate for their communities, realize their self-worth, get all their children in school, and have hope for the future.

And, now that she has retired, Bev continues to offer her experience and insight for improving the lives of smallholder farmers around the world as a consultant for Overseas Development Monitoring and Evaluation to organizations wishing to improve their ability to bring about change sustainably.

11/13/2013 | Comments: 0 | Add Comment