Desmond Tutu

Desmond Tutu Program To End Global Hunger

International Outreach & Economic Development

Dr. Rev. Lee with children

Imagine assisting some of the poorest, most desperate people on the planet through a global network of Agribusiness Economic Development Centers.

Imagine giving people the opportunity to raise themselves up from poverty through an extraordinary global initiative. FreshMinistries is doing this work, through creation of agricultural business incubation programs to alleviate food insecurities throughout Africa, and in Haiti, the Virgin Islands and throughout the world.

In 2017, FreshMinistries launched operations at its first aquaponics greenhouse, in Jacksonville, under the Native Fresh banner.

In 2018, FreshMinistries was honored to receive the blessing and support of Nobel laureate and renowned anti-apartheid leader Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu in creating a global initiative to eliminate food deserts and develop agribusiness opportunity through aquaponics. Lending his name to our project, Archbishop Tutu and FreshMinistries gave birth to “The Desmond Tutu Program to End Global Hunger: a FreshMinistries Initiative.” The program, providing global oversight for all of FreshMinistries’ agribusiness development projects, partners with Anglican Communion (and it’s impressive body of local leaders, workers and propertie) as well as a host of other funders, governments and NGOs. The Desmond Tutu Program to End Global Hunger was formally launched at a gathering with the Archbishop and his wife Leah at the home near Cape Town and later at a ceremony in New York (2019) attended by supporters including Archbishop Tutu’s daughter, Naomi Nontombi Tutu.

Island Fresh facility in the U.S. Virgin Islands

In 2020, FreshMinistries teamed with Farmers in Action and the Government of the U.S. Virgin Islands to break ground for one of the first projects under the Desmond Tutu Program umbrella, a new aquaponics training facility at Estate Bethlehem in St. Croix. Our "Island Fresh" initiative includes a six-greenhouse sustainable farming complex, built to develop local agribusiness through education, hands-on training and consistent production on a year-round basis. Now fully operational, our greenhouses and training centers use aquaponics as a way to sustainably grow both fresh produce and fish using a fraction of the resources needed for traditional agriculture. The produce grown in the aquaponics facility is currently distributed to the Department of Education, Bureau of Corrections and other outlets on the islands of St. Croix and St. Thomas. The project was funded by a $2 million grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration. Gov. Albert Bryan Jr. attended the groundbreaking in June of 2020, and spoke of his long-time friendship with Dr. Lee and support for FreshMinistries.

FreshMinistries has received seed money to build aquaponics greenhouses and training facilities in communities in South Africa, and has established a team there that includes partners from Conservation South Africa.

In addition, FreshMinistries is currently building aquaponics greenhouses and training facilities in communities in South Africa, and has established a team there that includes partners from Conservation South Africa and local government.

FreshMinistries first began its international work in 2004, when it received a $10 million federal PEPFAR grant to create SYAFUNDISA, an HIV/AIDS prevention and education program in South Africa, Mozambique and Namibia. This brought FreshMinistries into partnership with the late Bishop David Beetge and with Anglican leaders and parishes throughout Africa.

Through the years, we have provided disaster relief in Haiti, and launched enrichment and job-training programs internationally as well.

"Our primary goal is to strengthen economic development, and to fundamentally transform the lives of local citizens by addressing social and economic challenges that are by-products of food insecurity and poverty," says FreshMinistries founder and CEO, the Rev. Dr. Robert V. Lee III.

According to Archbishop Tutu, the program "is quite exciting and has such a great potential for helping to eradicate poverty."

Dr. Lee discusses food security and hunger eradication on "The Blue Continent" podcast.

Our Impact

Youth outreach workers help recruit and train community members to advocate abstinence until marriage and faithfulness after marriage. They work throughout the church province, which includes South Africa, Mozambique and Namibia. Indigenous leaders are also recruited and trained to disseminate positive health messages in age-appropriate ways.

The Harvard School of Public Health reported that 900,000 African youth were either saved or positively impacted by the peer-to-peer HIV/AIDS prevention and anti-stigma education program, created by FreshMinistries and its partners.

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The imagination of the Angelican Communion has a challenge.

The late David Beetge, Angelican Bishop of the Highveld, once remarked: Often when all is said and done in the Church, more is said than done! But, as he well knew, it doesn't have to be that way.

In conversation with FreshMinistries' Chairman, The Rev. Dr. Robert V. Lee III, Dr. Mark Dybul, former U.S. Global AIDS Ambassador and current Executive Director of the Global Fund, stated: "We have the program and funding to attack the tenets of poverty. What we need is an infrastructure through which to deliver it." Dr. Lee responded, "It already exists."

Learn more by downloading our e-book, Imagine a World Without Hunger.

Desmond Tutu Program to End Global Hunger.

Read our detailed brochure about the Tutu program