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It is the simplest of meals: one small scoop of refried beans and one whole wheat tortilla. The World Health Organization says this single bowl of food approximates the typical ration for an adult receiving food aid: 450 grams of cereal crops, 50 grams of pulses (edible seeds of various crops), 50 grams of oil, and 5 grams of iodized salt.

One Friday afternoon in September, the Canadian Foodgrains Bank invited church leaders and media in Winnipeg, Manitoba, to take part in a ration meal.

Designed to raise awareness concerning the food crisis in East Africa, the meal was attended by representatives of many of the Foodgrains Bank's partners, including the Christian Reformed Church.

A typical food ration meal that feeds someone in East Africa for a whole day.

Michele Visser Wikkerink

Dr. Ray Postuma attended on behalf of the Christian Reformed World Relief Committee. “As someone who is interested in health, what amazes me is that this small amount of food is all that is necessary to sustain life. And yet children are dying each day for lack of it,” he said.

Participants were invited to take home a small bag of rice and beans. The money saved by preparing this simple meal can then be donated to families living in crisis.

Rations change depending on location. If people have access to cooking facilities, they receive dry rations in quantities that can last for one or two months. In cases where people might be arriving at a refugee camp with nothing, the food may be distributed already cooked.

CRWRC communications project manager Kristen Vanderberg said that rations like these make the difference between life and death for many inhabitants of East Africa.  “The CRWRC is providing emergency food rations to 20,000 people and in some cases, drinking water and feed and care for livestock. Because this area is so prone to drought, we've included disaster risk-reduction training so that communities will be better equipped to survive drought conditions in the future. This $7 million response will help families survive until the next harvest, in January.”

To donate to the famine relief effort, visit the CRWRC website.

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