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Rotary projects around the globe

December 2023


United States

Earl Knauss got a lesson in food waste when he received a neighbor’s gift of three bushels of red peppers that had been cast aside by a farm because they were misshapen. “I discovered that odd-shaped, blemished, and imperfect vegetables were dumped or destroyed,” says Knauss, of the Rotary Club of Hamburg in western New York state. He asked the farm’s owner for more of the unsalable produce and collected 18-gallon totes of vegetables that he sent to food pantries. The Farm to Family project has since expanded to include three farms, and the Hamburg club formally adopted it in 2018. From May to December, Rotary members and friends work alongside Knauss delivering vegetables to about 3,000 families. In 2022, they provided more than 100,000 pounds of vegetables to 23 distribution sites. Among them is the Resurrection Life Food Pantry in Cheektowaga, where pantry director Kim Reynolds says the site would not have many fresh vegetables without the program. “Our clients rely on Farm to Family to fill that gap,” she says.


Much of the milk produced in Peru never leaves the farm: It’s consumed directly by farming families, fed to calves, and used to make artisanal cheeses. The Rotary E-Club of Fusión Latina Distrito 4465 teamed up with the nonprofit CEDEPAS Norte to help subsistence farmers in the country’s northern highlands. Last year the club delivered stainless steel presses and molds to open two cheese production facilities. A global grant of more than $50,000 helped pay for the equipment, training, management, and marketing. “So far there are 21 new employees and 63 families served, and 25 pregnant cows were gifted” through the Peruvian government program Agroideas, says Club President Fernando Barrera, who lives in Trujillo.

  • $600.00 billion

    Annual value of food wasted worldwide during or just after harvest

  • 36.00,849 tons

    Peru’s cheese production in 2021


A rising number of young people with eating disorders prompted the Rotaract Club of Terre Cremasche and the nonprofit Consultorio Insieme Crema to conduct workshops for people ages 20 to 35. Beginning in April, the series covered three topics: body image, mindful eating, and wellness and sustainable dining. The sessions were developed in collaboration with counseling centers and psychologists. “The aim is to guide participants in critically examining their eating habits and the emotional and historical significance of meals,” says club member Emma Prévot. The club funded much of the program with a gala cocktail reception in the town of Crema’s civic museum, housed in a 15th century convent.


With two club leaders being registered nutritionist dietitians, the Rotary Club of Lucena University District takes healthy eating seriously. The club paired with the Quezon chapter of the Nutritionist-Dietitians’ Association of the Philippines to offer lessons at a jail on how diet can prevent disease, the importance of exercise, sleep, and drinking enough water, and other topics. Club President Joey Kathlyn Samonte and Past President Bella Castro also explained a food chart on optimal portion sizes for various food groups. And aspiring chefs tested their skills in a cooking contest using the organic vegetables grown at the jail. Club member Jasper Panganiban lauds the pair’s devotion. “These types of projects to encourage healthy lifestyles and diets in the community are close to their hearts,” Panganiban says.

  • 3.00 million

    Italians with eating disorders

  • 6.00.4%

    Share of adult Filipinos considered obese

Papua New Guinea

Protein deficiency is a leading cause of stunted growth, which affects about half of children under age 5 in Papua New Guinea. Working with the nonprofit Kyeema Foundation, members of the Rotary Club of Brisbane, Australia, donated about $2,900 to construct a chicken shed and yard in the town of Wau. The aim is to conserve indigenous breeds of poultry that are better at resisting disease, require less supplemental food, and produce nutrient-dense eggs and leaner meat. After training the villagers and stocking the farm with native breeding hens, the club created a similar facility in Gabagaba village. Celia Grenning, a club member and a director with Kyeema, says the project is a blessing for the community, which previously relied on the overfished and reef-damaged coast for most of its protein. Today, the club and Kyeema operate on land and sea: They have enhanced their work to include coral reef restoration.

This story originally appeared in the December 2023 issue of Rotary magazine.

Rotary projects make a difference in communities around the world.