In 2005, an article in small town newspaper inspired Dennis Lundy to sacrifice a significant portion of his income to serve people he would likely never meet. The story featured a group of farmers from Conrad, Iowa who were producing a crop for needy people thousands of miles away from his 2000 acre operation. 

Lundy believed that if he planted the idea of “farming for a cause” in the minds of friends, family -- and fellow members of his church -- together they could make a difference in the lives of those less fortunate.

Dennis Lundy, Farmer, Fontanelle:”I tried to get someone else to do it, and finally realized it was me. So I took it to the men’s group at church, they were for it, and we have been going every year since. I feel God gave me what I have, and the resources and the knowledge and it’s a good way to use what I was given to help other people.”

That divine calling was the genesis of an effort Lundy called “Fields of Faith.” But it was far from the first such effort for Foods Resources Bank, a Christian -based charitable organization that facilitates humanitarian projects in 34 countries.

Foods Resources Bank supports operations like the one Lundy envisioned, which it identifies as   “growing projects.”  And it believes farmers play a pivotal role in their success. 

Ron DeWeerd, Development Director Foods Resource Bank: “All of the sudden it dawned on me, I hadn’t talked to a farmer. And I changed that. I began talking to farmers over a cup of coffee. By April of that year…2000, we had six or seven guys in different communities in the upper Midwest who wanted to do this. So that was the foundation of the Foods Resource Bank.”

 Fields of Faith officially began when Lundy took 60 acres of his cropland and designated its annual output for charity. The call went out to the local community to donate time, money and equipment to support the growing project.  And the rural community – from seed companies to implement dealers to private citizens -- responded.  Lundy helped plant the initial crop on his Fields of Faith with donated time from friends and neighbors.

Despite the name, Foods Resource Bank does not provide any direct food relief. Instead, the non-profit uses funds from its growing projects to build critical infrastructure in developing countries.  

And growing projects like Fields of Faith have the opportunity to decide where their charitable efforts will be put to work. 

Foods Resource Bank partners with Catholic Relief Services, Church World Service Lutheran World Relief to help with charitable projects all over the world. 

The projects range from efforts to improve irrigation projects in mountain villages to improving compost production in urban areas.  Once a program is approved, Foods Resource Bank commits to funding the project for three to five years. And 90 percent of the funding for the efforts comes from growing projects like the one “Fields of Faith” has been conducting for the past decade.

But that can be a double edged sword.  And the  folks at Food Resources Bank are all too keen to the fact that the primary source of revenue, farming, often is volatile and unpredictable. 

The expenses for the project are kept separately to ensure accounting accuracy while tracking input costs.  In years with favorable commodity prices, like 2012 and 13, when severe drought pushed corn to $8 per bushel and soybeans above $13, the donation from 60 acres was substantial -- despite higher than average production costs. But in leaner years like 2014, when corn approached $3, Foods Resource Bank plans for dramatically less revenue.

Ron DeWeerd, Development Director, Foods Resource Bank, “That’s why we call it a Bank. We have a lot of funds in the bank so our members know what moneys there are and they can commit to…because we know our programming is going to be committing to three to five years, so we want to make sure the money is there, because we don’t want to start projects we can’t fund.”

Currently, more than 200 active growing projects contribute their production to Foods Resources Bank and along with the agricultural community celebrated helping the one millionth person lifted to sustainable living.

 Even after Foods Resources Bank takes control of the grain, “Fields of Faith” still has a few chores to complete, and its leaders begin planning the next crop, identifying potential areas of improvement and choosing where they want their funds to be deployed and the manner in which their “harvest” is spent. 

Dennis Lundy, Farmer-Fontanelle, Iowa, “Say they need help digging a well. In the position we are in…we don’t know what it means to be thirsty…we don’t know what it’s like to be hungry, We don’t know what’s it like over there, but we do know it’s helping people”