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75 Years of Cooperative Impact: CDF and the Founding of CARE

To mark CDF's 75th Anniversary, throughout 2020 The Buzz will highlight the Foundation's milestone accomplishments

The Cooperative Development Foundation grew out of the Cooperative Principle of "Cooperation among Cooperatives." In late 1944, cooperative leaders came together to establish The Freedom Fund - the predecessor of the Cooperative Development Foundation – to aid in the reconstruction and development of European cooperatives destroyed in WWII. 


The next year the fund made its first and most significant investments - a $30,000  grant to help launch the Cooperative for American Remittances to Europe known today as Cooperative for Assistance and Relief Everywhere, or CARE. The plan was to distribute surplus and donated supplies to starving and war ravaged Europeans through a nonprofit cooperative of aid organizations. As reported by Wally Campbell in The History of Care, the Cooperative League of the USA mobilized to bring cooperatives, relief organizations and governments together to tackle the complicated logistical challenges of food relief and distribution.  

The first "CARE Package" arrived by steamship in the Le Havre, France harbor in May 1946. According to Christopher Klein, author of the article The First Care Package, the ship carried 15,000 brown cardboard boxes of food that "contained everything from whole-milk powder and liver loaf to margarine and coffee." According to Campbell, cooperative federations across Europe participated in distribution of CARE packages including France's consumer cooperative society, the British Cooperative Wholesale Society, and a federation of Finnish agricultural cooperatives.

Over the next two decades, CARE expanded to Asia and other parts of the developing world - first Japan and the Philippines, and later Korea, India, and Pakistan. By the 1960s, CARE’s reach extended to Latin America and Africa and had sent close to 100 million packages to those in need worldwide. Today the organization continues to provide supplies and technical assistance to help people in need help themselves. 

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