In the midst of a seismic hunger crisis, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is making the largest humanitarian donation in its history, giving $32 million to the World Food Programme.

The WFP will use the money to provide food and other critical support to 1.6 million people in nine countries — Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Haiti, Kenya, northeast Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen.

“This extraordinary donation from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints could not come at a more critical time,” WFP executive director David Beasley said in a news release. “With millions of people starving today, WFP is working hard to deliver food, help and hope — and this life-saving contribution allows us to do just that.”

The church through Latter-day Saint Charities has worked with the World Food Programme, the largest humanitarian aid organization addressing world hunger, for eight years. The church provides money and goods and the WFP regularly distributes the aid in areas where the church has little or no footprint.

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During the spring, the church gave $2 million to the WFP to help Ukrainian refugees inside and outside of the war-torn country.

“We are so grateful to collaborate with the World Food Programme because we know they will get food to those who need it most,” said Bishop L. Todd Budge, second counselor in the church’s Presiding Bishopric, in the release. “And we thank Latter-day Saints and friends of the faith whose financial sacrifices have made this gift possible. Such giving makes God’s children a little happier and all of us a little holier.”

Bishop Budge presented the donation Wednesday at WFP headquarters in Rome to Ute Klamert, the WFP deputy executive director of Partnerships and Advocacy, and the WFP’s U.S. president and CEO, Barron Segar.

World Food Programme USA President and CEO Barron Segar, left, and WFP Deputy Executive Director of Partnerships and Advocacy Ute Klamert, center, accept a $32 million donation from Bishop L. Todd Budge, of the Presiding Bishopric of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, on Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2022, at the WFP’s headquarters in Rome. | The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

A global food crisis that Beasley warned about three years ago during a visit to the church’s headquarters in 2019 continues to worsen.

For example, WFP food assistance has reached more than half of Yemen’s population.

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“At this time of unprecedented global need, we are grateful for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ transformational gift,” Segar said in a statement. “Private sector support is critical to our mission, enabling WFP to scale food assistance and resilience work that brings families stability and comfort during these challenging times. I am confident that the church’s gift will inspire others to join our movement to end global hunger.”

The WFP attributes the hunger crisis to conflicts, climate shocks, consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic and rising costs.

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The organization estimates 828 million people go to bed hungry every night, while those facing acute food insecurity has soared to 345 million, up from 135 million in 2019.

Some 50 million people in 45 countries are teetering on the edge of famine, the WFP reports.

“My heart rejoices for the millions of malnourished children who will benefit from this donation,” said President Camille N. Johnson, the church’s Relief Society general president. “Jesus has a tender heart for children. He weeps to see them starve. And he rejoices at even the smallest effort to help them. A huge thanks to the World Food Programme and to all who contribute in any way to this cause.”

The Church of Jesus Christ gives around $1 billion annually to care for those in need around the world, according to the church’s news release.

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