U.S. wheat industry leaders are discussing possible collaborative responses to the suffering in Haiti. U.S. Wheat Associates says all advice now points to an on-going need for cash donations. There are many options. One, the American Red Cross, accepts $10 donations by texting "Haiti" to 90999. Go to http://www.redcross.org/ to learn more about how you can help.
Meanwhile, there are individual wheat group efforts to help the depressed Haitians. Justin Gilpin, chief executive officer of Kansas Wheat, says the U.S. Wheat Associates' Food Aid Working (FAW) Group is working with the U.S. government to find ways to meet the humanitarian needs of the Haiti government, including distribution of flour and wheat. FAW's goal is to encourage sustainable food security and global food assistance on behalf of U.S. wheat producers.
A Haiti flour mill was one of the thousands of buildings heavily damaged by the massive earthquake. Mark Fowler, associate director of the International Grains Program (IGP) at Kansas State University (K-State), was an employee of Seaboard, which bought the mill in 1998. As part of the team that helped rebuild the rundown facility, Fowler spent 200 days in Haiti over 13 months from 1998 to 1999. In a country as poverty-stricken as Haiti, the flour mill was a source of national pride, employment and independence.
"In the aftermath of this tragedy, we need to find ways in which the U.S. can fulfill our role as a world leader and share our supply of nutritious foodstuffs with a country in need," says Gilpin. "Many K-State grain science graduates and IGP short course participants have worked in the Haiti flour mill over the years. Our thoughts are with them and their families right now."
Through IGP short courses, Fowler has been instrumental in teaching the intricacies of U.S. Food Aid programs to milling professionals from around the world. He says Public Law 480, also known as the Food for Peace program, can be used to ship food aid directly to Haiti and ensure distribution of these foodstuffs to the needy with minimal waste. "Long-term, our goal is to help the milling company get re-established to the point it can mill wheat instead of merely distributing flour, which will allow more Haitians to get back to work," he says.