Urging our nation's leaders to end hunger

Ideas for a Plentiful Harvest

This weekend, Bread for the World hosted Harvest for the World at Chicago’s Trinity United Church of Christ to discuss the African-American church’s role in fighting hunger and poverty.  The African-American church has historically been one of strongest entities in the community, providing everything from health and social services to child care and education.  Over the weekend, Bread for the World and some key influencers from the Chicago community discussed ways that the church can take it a step further.  But where do we begin?  Participants shared plenty of ideas, but for starters, here are some of the things we’ve discussed:

If we want lawmakers to really understand how hunger affects the community, we have to show the face of hunger.  Anyone serving meals to those in need knows the face of hunger—and they know that, often times, it’s different from what many might think.  The image of hunger we’re talking about are those of the working fathers and mothers who aren’t even making enough money to put them over the poverty line, despite the fact that they may work 60 hours a week.  The image of hunger we’re also talking about is that of malnutrition and obesity.  When communities do not have access to healthy foods because they are either nowhere to be found in their community or they are too expensive to justify when trying to feed a family, people resort to less nutritious foods filled with sugar, fat, cholesterol and sodium—all of which can lead to obesity.  Decision makers need to see these faces to really understand hungers affects on the community and work toward tangible, accessible solutions.

We have to find a way to get the people who are affected by hunger and poverty engaged in the fight to end it.  This is challenging because these families are working and struggling to make ends meet.  However, it could help to foster a dialogue in which those who are experiencing hunger can share those experiences first-hand with decision makers and they can work to come up with solutions.  Not only would this help to truly show the face of hunger to those who may not understand, but it may also provide a solid foundation for lasting solutions to hunger in the community.

We must speak honestly about hunger and poverty.  How many families of four do you know who can live healthy lives on $22,000 per year?  For many individuals, that amount wouldn’t even be sufficient for their lifestyles.  If this is the poverty threshold in the U.S., how many people living just above that threshold are falling through the cracks?  Our faith teaches us that this it is unacceptable for some people to be living with plenty and others to be missing out completely.  It is possible to end hunger and to ensure food justice for all, but we have got to start with an open, informed and honest dialogue about hunger and poverty.


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