A Bag Story
By Adlai Amor
Musician and pastor Bryan McFarland, a hunger advocate for the Presbyterian Church (USA), never leaves his North Carolina home without 24 paper grocery bags in his car. No, he does not shop that much: Rev. McFarland uses them as props to illustrate a Bread for the World graphic (above) that first appeared in the 2013 Hunger Report, Within Reach: Global Development Goals.
McFarland recently used his 24 bags while preaching two sermons based on the infographic. He lined up the sacks in front of the congregation—in the chancel, on the communion table, and anywhere else there was space. He then asked the worshippers to guess how many of the bags, which represented the amount of food used to feed hungry people in the United States, came from food banks and private charities.
More often than not, congregants answered, "All of them." The truth is that only one in 24 bags of food assistance comes from a charitable organization. Federal nutrition programs provide the rest.
“When I tell them that, you can feel the hush that falls and their minds open,” McFarland said in a recent conversation. After allowing congregants to absorb that information for a moment, McFarland uses the opportunity to tell them why it is so important that Christians be politically active—not partisan—and advocate for hungry and poor people.
“To realize this, especially in North Carolina, is huge,” McFarland said. That is why he now travels with 24 grocery bags and will continue to do so until the message hits home and hunger has been eradicated.
Adlai Amor is Bread for the World's director of communications.
Resource: Educate others about the vital food assistance that nutrition programs provide by performing your own 24-bag exercise.
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