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Hope against hunger

By Staff | Feb 11, 2022

An organization that has tackled the issue of world hunger by providing tools and training so small farmers can produce crops to feed themselves and their families will mark a big anniversary this weekend.

North Fort Myers based ECHO will celebrate its 40th on Saturday at New Hope Presbyterian Church in Fort Myers. The event will begin at 7 p.m. and the public is invited to attend.

“It will be a night full of memories and representatives from ECHO from every continent and past staff from every decade,” ECHO spokesperson Danielle Flood told The Breeze. “We’re excited to share this with the community.”

Speaking as members of the community, we are excited that not only is ECHO sharing its milestone event but that its international efforts have made a difference for millions of people over the course of its four decades.

On its website, ECHO outlines its mission well:

“ECHO’s goal is to provide hope against hunger. To that end the organization provides training for self-sustainability, focusing on small-scale farming solutions that can create the most change and feed the most families.”

In application,“ECHO introduces sustainable plants, techniques and technologies to farmers around the world who are struggling to feed their families. We go out into the world to provide training and resources that empower small-scale farming families to thrive.”

The non-profit uses statistics to illustrate the need for such an endeavor.

Those statistics are heart wrenching:

On any given day, 821 million people go to bed hungry.

In any given year, 1.5 million children die due to severe malnutrition.

ECHO, an acronym for Educational Concerns for Haiti Organization, was founded on a small 5-acre plot off Bayshore Road with a focused nitch. It has since grown into a 55-acre experimental farm that simulates six types of tropical climates. It now has Regional Impact Centers scattered in areas of need across the globe which provide training and resources to development workers in more than 180 countries.

Its Seeds of Hope program provides just that — seeds that can aid small farmers with the planting of sustainable food gardens in their climate, in their community.

Finally, ECHO provides the network “for field-based practitioners to connect with each other to share experience, ideas and encouragement.”

It’s a great mission.

And its successes are legend not only among that network of volunteers, organizations and professionals, but among the scattered small communities in need of more and better food security.

Like most non-profits, ECHO welcomes — and relies on — donations (which are tax deductible) to foster its mission.

Charity Navigator has given the organization a consistent four-star “give with confidence” rating.

It also has earned a Charity Navigator “exceptional” ranking of 9-plus for its programs; a perfect score of 10 for it management of administrative costs; and a perfect score of 100 for accountability and transparency.

ECHO says it “provides hope against hunger.”

Indeed it does. And it does it well.

Donations, information on volunteer opportunities, programs and upcoming fundraisers may be found at https://echonet.org/

— Breeze Editorial