Urging our nation's leaders to end hunger
 

121 posts categorized "Faith"

Deliver Us From Evil...

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An overflow crowd gathers outside Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, S.C., during a memorial service following the shooting of nine congregants. Wikimedia Commons.

By Jose Garcia

As I was watching the news about the senseless murder of our brothers and sisters at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, the camera showed a young woman with a sign that read WHY? This is a question that troubled many.

My answer may sound simplistic to some, but in truth, the root of the problem is - because evil exists. As sure as there is a sovereign, loving, kind, and merciful God, there is evil. It stains humanity and all of God’s creation. It leads to hate, bigotry, racism, oppression, abuse of power, envy, murder, lies, rebellion, and many other manifestations that are contrary to God’s perfect will.

However, in the midst of pain and sorrow we have an opportunity to be an extension of God’s arms of love and consolation to a community that is in mourning. We are reminded by the Apostle Peter to “not repay evil for evil or abuse for abuse; but, on the contrary, repay with a blessing. It is for this that you were called—that you might inherit a blessing… For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer…” (1 Peter 3:9, 12)

God's love has compelled many to different demonstrations of love and care for our AME family and the city of Charleston. One of our own, Rev. Nancy Neal, a native of Charleston and Bread’s deputy director of church relations, traveled this weekend to Charleston, in solidarity and love, toward a community that she feels a closer connection with.

Many local congregations are lifting up prayers for the families of the victims and the community. Let us not forget that Jesus taught us to pray: “rescue us from the evil one.”

Jose Garcia is a bishop in the Church of God of Prophecy and the director of the church relations department at Bread for the World.

Why Should Christians Care About Climate Change?

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iStockphoto

By Bishop Jose Garcia

“The earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it, the world, and those who live in it; for he has founded it on the seas, and established it on the rivers” (Psalm 24:1-2). This Bible passage clearly states who is the rightful owner of all the natural resources on our planet. Yet God gave humankind the authority to subdue the earth. In other words, to exercise great care as stewards of God’s creation.

There is an abundance of Bible references showing God’s instructions on how to care for the land. Therefore, we have a responsibility to practice good stewardship of all the natural resources entrusted to our care. Some of the parables shared by Jesus with the disciples stress the importance of good stewardship and our accountability to God.

The earth is not a wastebasket. It is a perfectly designed house for humanity and all of creation, and God saw that “it was good.” We share this house in awesomeness and reverence because of the way everything, from inanimate objects to living creatures, plays a role in keeping a homeostatic balance in which we all coexist and survive.

God created humankind as relational beings who need a vital and healthy interaction not only with one another but with all the elements of creation. Our planet is a system of living organisms and elements that shape and have an impact in the atmosphere, land, and water. As relational beings, we have spiritual, emotional, and physical needs that are met through our interaction with other human beings. However, another important relationship is the one we have with the rest of creation.  As stewards of this house, we are called to exercise good care and not to neglect the charge given to humankind by God, to subdue the earth. Whether we like to admit it or not, there is no action without consequence, for we will reap what we sow.

Climate change is real. We do not live in a vacuum void of interaction with God’s creation. There is a need for accountability to one another and to God, to ensure good stewardship of the resources in this planet we all share.

Jose Garcia is a bishop in the Church of God of Prophecy and the director of the church relations department at Bread for the World.

Lead with Your Faith and Contact Congress

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A nurse visits with a patient in Jinja, Uganda. Improving global health is an aim of the poverty-focused development accounts. Laura Elizabeth Pohl/Bread for the World.

By Bread Staff

A group of faith leaders from across the country will visit Capitol Hill on Wednesday to speak in support of funding for federal programs that are vital to helping people caught in disasters or who live in the daily grind of poverty. These individuals represent many faith backgrounds, but what unites them is their shared commitment to promoting the dignity of all people, including the world's most vulnerable. 

Will you join their efforts and call (800/826-3688) or email your member of Congress? You don't need to be a faith leader — just a person of faith. You can let your faith lead you to ask Congress to robustly fund humanitarian and poverty-focused development accounts within the International Affairs budget. PFDA accounts fund programs that reduce poverty and that carry out development and humanitarian assistance. These programs help to lift millions of people out of hunger, poverty, and disease around the world.

PFDA accounts provide both humanitarian relief and long-term, sustainable solutions to the problems of poverty and hunger. The work takes a wide variety of forms—agricultural development and nutrition, refugee assistance, emergency disaster assistance, global health, education, gender equality, water and sanitation, and more

As Christians, we are motivated by our faith in Jesus Christ. Alongside these distinguished faith leaders, you can make a significant difference in advocating for limited federal dollars for these programs, which continue to move millions of people out of hunger, poverty, and disease around the world.

Join these faith leaders from around the country and pray with us for an end to hunger and poverty in our world. But don't stop there. Ask Congress to robustly fund humanitarian and poverty-focused development accounts within the International Affairs budget.

Call (800/826-3688) or email your member of Congress today! Let’s work together to ensure that the world’s most vulnerable get the development and humanitarian assistance they deserve.

Lobby Day 2015: A Great Day of Advocacy

By Jennifer Gonzalez

Over 250 Bread for the World activists descended on Capitol Hill on Tuesday in the summer heat of Washington to ensure that members of Congress support child nutrition in the U.S. and abroad, and also aid small-scale farmers around the globe. Bread activists specifically asked members of Congress to support the Summer Meals Act of 2015 and the Global Food Security Act of 2015.

The day was a success as activist after activist, young and old alike, met with senators and representatives (or their staffers). Some meetings were small, with just a handful of activists around a table, sharing their thoughts, while others were quite large.

About 15 members from the Reformed Church of Highland Park in New Jersey met with staffers of Sen. Bob Menendez’s (D-N.J.) office. The group later met with staffers from Sen. Cory Booker’s (D-N.J.) office and got a surprise when the senator unexpectedly showed up and spoke to them. The group was not scheduled to meet with Booker, but instead, only with a couple of staffers.

Here are some highlights from Lobby Day 2015:

The morning got off to a great start with some inspiring words from Amelia Kegan, Bread’s deputy director of government relations. She spoke at Capitol Hill Presbyterian Church, where activists took part in a worship service combined with a legislative briefing by staff members of Bread’s government relations department.

Activists spent the afternoon meeting with various members of Congress. A small group of Iowans met with Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa). They were accompanied by Rev. David Beckmann, Bread’s president, and Christine Melendez Ashley, a senior policy analyst at Bread.

Maria Rose Belding, a former intern at the Alliance to End Hunger (Bread’s sister organization), who now works at a nonprofit emergency food pantry system, stressed the need for Ernst to support the Summer Meals Act of 2015. “For every seven children who receive a free school lunch, only one gets a summer meal,” she said.

A handful of Bread activists from Alabama met with a staffer in Rep. Terri Sewell’s (D-07) office. Suzanne Martin spoke about the need for members of Congress, such as Sewell, to cosponsor the Global Food Security Act. The bill would make permanent Feed the Future, which has helped more than 7 million small-scale farmers increase crop production and has provided nutritious food to more than 12.5 million children in 2013 alone.

“What I love about this bill is that creates resiliency and sustainability,” Martin said. “I hope she (Sewell) becomes a big champion of this bill.”

The day ended with a reception and worship service at the Cannon House Office Building. Four members of Congress were honored as “hunger champions” during the reception: U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), U.S. Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.-37), U.S. Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-Neb.-01), and U.S. Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard, (D-Calif.-40).

Lobby Day ended with activists relaying personal stories from their day on Capitol Hill. Thanks to all who participated in this year’s Lobby Day. We can’t end hunger by 2030 without your continued strong voice!

Faith Happens Outside the Church Walls - Not Just on Sunday Mornings

By Rev. Tanya J. Denley

As a young-adult volunteer in mission in Cleveland, Ohio, almost 20 years ago, I saw in the actions of my supervisors at Noble Road Presbyterian Church that faith wasn’t just a thing that happened on Sunday mornings. Instead, it was lived out in the community around the church each every day. Tanya-denley

Today I live in Baltimore, Md. As a chaplain in an urban Catholic-affiliated hospital and a parish associate at Dickey Memorial Presbyterian Church, I continue to see the need for faith to be active in the community around the church.

Baltimore is unlike any city I've ever lived in. It’s small, although in 2012, for the first time in 60 years, the population increased. The city is poor — 25 percent of its residents live below the poverty line — and overwhelmingly Black — 64 percent of the population. Drive through most parts of the city, and you’ll see row houses that are burned out, boarded up, and falling down. The poverty is apparent even in downtown. The stately, 115-year-old Clarence M. Mitchell Jr. courthouse is covered in netting to protect pedestrians from falling pieces of the building.

Dickey Memorial Church is located on the west side of Baltimore, not far from Sandtown-Winchester, where Freddie Grey was born, raised, and died after being held by police. The church is not far from Mondawmin, where young people took to the streets to express their frustration — and community leaders, clergy, and residents hit the streets calling for peace.

One of the immediate concerns to the community surrounding Dickey Memorial is that our nearby school, Dickey Hill Elementary/Middle School, like many other schools in the city, has no potable water. The children at the school cannot drink the water due to the high lead content. Additionally, 89 percent of the students at the school are receiving free or reduced-priced lunch, which is critical because of the high prevalence of food deserts in Baltimore.

There is much need in the city. Some more statistics:

  • 1 in 5 Baltimore City residents lives in a food desert.
  • Nearly 1 in 4 of Baltimore’s school-aged children (0-17) lives in a food desert.
  • 1 in 4 of Baltimore’s African-American population lives in a food desert.
  • In a food desert, 1 in 4 households receives Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, twice the percentage of non-food-desert households.
  • 1 in 3 of Baltimore’s neighborhoods (36 percent) is located within a food desert.

There is good news, though. For over 35 years, the Baltimore faith community and, more recently, Dickey Memorial, have been working to make a difference in the communities around us. Church and community leaders in the area have joined with BUILD — Baltimoreans United for Leadership Development — to create better relationships with each other and to work for lasting change in Baltimore. The commitment for BUILD is a commitment to move the church out of the four walls of the sanctuary.

Dickey Memorial also supports Bread for the World each year. We understand that policy changes must happen on both the local and national levels. Protecting child nutrition programs is critical for children living in food deserts. The commitment to Bread is also a commitment to carry out our faith outside our church.

For me, this commitment comes from the understanding that as followers of Jesus we are to align our principles, our beliefs, and our lives with what God values, not with what the world values. We are called to love our neighbor as ourselves, to be willing to lay down our lives for our neighbor, to do justice, love God, and to walk humbly with God. This reorganization of priorities and aligning our lives with what God values is not always an easy process, nor is it a one-time event. It is something I must do and think about each and every day–and in a sense is a daily spiritual discipline.

Rev. Tanya J Denley, BCC is the oncology chaplain at Mercy Medical Center in downtown Baltimore. She also serves as Parish Associate for Dickey Memorial Presbyterian Church in Dickeyville. In her spare time, she volunteers with Presbyterian Women's Anti-Racism Committee and writes on anti-racism and white privilege. She is married and has one cat.

Photo inset: Rev. Tanya J. Denley

Scriptural Manna: The Invitation

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Editor's note: Bread Blog is running a year-long series exploring passages from The Poverty & Justice Bible published by the American Bible Society (Contemporary English Version). The intent is a theological exploration at the intersection of social justice and religion. The blog posts will be written by members of the church relations staff at Bread for the World.

An important man asked Jesus, “Good Teacher, what must I do to have eternal life?” Jesus said, “Why do you call me good? Only God is good. You know the commandments: ‘Be faithful in marriage. Do not murder. Do not steal. Do not tell lies about others. Respect your father and mother.’” He told Jesus, “I have obeyed all these commandments since I was a young man.” When Jesus heard this, he said, “There is one more thing you still need to do. Go and sell everything you own! Give the money to the poor, and you will have riches in heaven. Then come and be my follower.” When the man heard this he was sad, because he was very rich. Jesus saw how sad the man was. So he said, “It’s terribly hard for rich people to get into God’s kingdom! In fact, it’s easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to get into God’s kingdom.” (Luke 18: 18-25)

As a person without “great riches,” it is quite easy for me to just assume rich people aren’t getting into heaven and this passage doesn’t apply to me. But looking deeper at the exchange between Jesus and the important man, it occurs to me that the passage is really about answering the invitation to follow Christ. The important man seems to recognize that Jesus is Lord—that it is through Jesus that eternal life comes, and he has spent his adult life following the commandments. And yet, upon the invitation to follow Christ, he walks away sadly.

The invitation comes with a commitment the important man is unwilling to make—to sell his belongings and give the money to the poor, and follow Jesus. And while I don’t literally think that Jesus is calling all of us to sell our belongings, give the money to the poor, and hit the road, I do think our invitation requires that we give up something. That cost is different for each of us.

My invitation to follow Christ came in a call to ministry. Believe me, it was not an easy thing to say yes to. My commitment required that I give up false ideas about who I am and see myself through God’s eyes. I had to dig deep and see myself as I truly am—all the lumps, bumps, bruises, mean streaks, and ugly attitudes along with all the generosity and beauty and gentleness and love I have to give.

By seeing myself as God sees me—with all of God’s love and grace, I can’t help but see the world through those same eyes. And while I don’t feel called to sell all of my belongings and give the money to the poor, I do feel called to work to end hunger in the U.S. and around the world.

Christ’s invitation is extended to each of us. And saying yes to that invitation requires a commitment that is significant. It requires letting go of something that we hold tightly to, and it asks us to love the world by addressing the needs of those who are lacking—whether it’s food, housing, education, clean water, kind words, the message of the gospel of Jesus Christ. What are you holding tightly?

Bread for the World’s annual Lobby Day is June 9. Join us to make some real changes in Washington, D.C., when it comes to feeding our children. You don’t need to be a policy expert to participate. You just need to care. 

Registration is free but space is limited. Register today to reserve your spot!

REV. NANCY NEAL is deputy director of the Church Relations Department at Bread for the World.

 

 

 

Young Hunger Leaders United Through Bread for the World

By Patricia Bidar

 

Over the past decade, Bread has brought together hundreds of young leaders. Through the Hunger Justice Leadership training program, these young people are equipped to work to change the policies and conditions that allow hunger to persist. As with many Bread gatherings, these trainings in Washington, D.C., have resulted in some fruitful partnerships.

One is a serious partnership — the marriage of Terrance and Kiara Ruth, who met at the 2010 Hunger Justice Leaders training. Just over a year ago, their son, Miles, was born.

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Both Terrance and Kiara were speakers at the 2015 Bread for the World Convention in mid-April in Raleigh, N.C., where the couple lives. The gathering galvanized over 200 people from throughout North Carolina and generated 223 letters to members of Congress.

Kiara feels God brought Terrance and her together. "The Hunger Justice Training was the first time anyone in my family had ever been on a plane," she remembers. "Few from my African Methodist Episcopal church back home have ever left Arkansas."

"Terrance and I were assigned to the same work hub," Kiara continues. "Over the course of days, I saw his selflessness and his passion for justice. We were assigned to sit together at the culminating dinner the night before Lobby Day. Our tablemates all assumed we were a married couple."

At the April convention in North Carolina, Kiara spoke about her family's struggle. As a teen growing up in Arkansas, she and her family turned to a shelter to keep a roof over their heads. "Later, when we received food aid and were able to go to the grocery store — that was like Disneyland for us," she remembers.

Terrance grew up in Florida. His father was a military man; his mother, a nurse. After earning his Ph.D., Terrance became principal of AMIkids, a public high school for students who have been suspended from traditional schools. Ninety-five percent of the students qualify for free lunches. For many, that is the only meal they eat each day.

At the school, the day starts at 10:00 a.m., too late to provide free breakfast. So Terrace recruited a local donor to bring breakfasts to the school.

The school also has a garden to grow produce for students' families. At first, the students weren't taking the vegetables because they didn't know how to prepare them. Terrance and the teachers are now working with parents to ensure the vegetables are used.

Terrance writes a series of articles for EducationNC. The articles are framed as letters to Terrance and Kiara's son. The letters describe the reality of African-American students and express hope as Miles grows up. 

Kiara and Terrance worship at St. Paul AME Church in Raleigh. Terrance's faith inspires him to note that "Bread for the World's work is important because Scripture calls for it…Again and again, the Bible connects the holiness of God and food. Scripture correlates spirituality and nourishment. How can Christians possibly ignore hungry people?"

Kiara adds, "At the time I was participating in the Hunger Justice Leader training, my mother and my grandmother were both on food stamps. Bread for the World's work is much more than talking to elected officials about the hunger issue. We are here to do more than that. We are here to make something happen."

Kiara aims to keep her activism strong. "The more who join us, the more we can accomplish. And my job is to make clear to my congregation, my aunties and cousins, my neighbors, that they can help. Then change will happen. Lives will finally improve."

Bread for the World’s annual Lobby Day is June 9. Join us to make some real changes in Washington, D.C., when it comes to feeding our children. You don’t need to be a policy expert to participate. You just need to care. 

Registration is free but space is limited. Register today to reserve your spot!

Photo: Kiara and Terrance Ruth with their son Miles. Photos courtesy of the Ruths.

Patricia Bidar is a freelance writer.

Overcoming Poverty Focus of Summit Led by Faith Groups

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President Obama speaking at Georgetown University about poverty and race. Photo courtesy of the White House.

By Jennifer Gonzalez

President Obama spoke yesterday during the Catholic-Evangelical Leadership Summit on Overcoming Poverty at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.

The panel discussion was sponsored by several faith-based and nonprofit organizations including Bread for the World and the Circle of Protection. Bread President Rev. David Beckmann attended the event as well as other Bread staff members from the Church Relations and Government Relations departments.

The following are excerpts of President Obama’s comments during the panel discussion:

On poverty:

“I think it’s important when it comes to dealing with issues of poverty for us to guard against cynicism, and not buy the idea that the poor will always be with us and there’s nothing we can do -- because there’s a lot we can do.  The question is do we have the political will, the communal will to do something about it.”

On the effects of the free market:

“We don’t dispute that the free market is the greatest producer of wealth in history -- it has lifted billions of people out of poverty.  We believe in property rights, rule of law, so forth.  But there has always been trends in the market in which concentrations of wealth can lead to some being left behind.  And what’s happened in our economy is that those who are doing better and better -- more skilled, more educated, luckier, having greater advantages -- are withdrawing from sort of the commons -- kids start going to private schools; kids start working out at private clubs instead of the public parks.  An anti-government ideology then disinvests from those common goods and those things that draw us together.  And that, in part, contributes to the fact that there’s less opportunity for our kids, all of our kids.”

On bridging gaps:

“I think that we are at a moment -- in part because of what’s happened in Baltimore and Ferguson and other places, but in part because a growing awareness of inequality in our society -- where it may be possible not only to refocus attention on the issue of poverty, but also maybe to bridge some of the gaps that have existed and the ideological divides that have prevented us from making progress.

On the church and faith-based organizations:

“I think that faith-based groups across the country and around the world understand the centrality and the importance of this issue in an intimate way -- in part because these faith-based organizations are interacting with folks who are struggling and know how good these people are, and know their stories, and it's not just theological, but it's very concrete.  They’re embedded in communities and they’re making a difference in all kinds of ways.”

“And there’s noise out there, and there’s arguments, and there’s contention.  And so people withdraw and they restrict themselves to, what can I do in my church, or what can I do in my community?  And that's important.  But our faith-based groups I think have the capacity to frame this -- and nobody has shown that better than Pope Francis, who I think has been transformative just through the sincerity and insistence that he’s had that this is vital to who we are.  This is vital to following what Jesus Christ, our Savior, talked about.”

Jennifer Gonzalez is the associate online editor at Bread for the World. 

'A Mercy Management System'

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Pope Francis in the Philippines earlier this year. Benhur Arcayan/Malacañang Photo Bureau via Wikimedia Commons.

By Bread Staff

In September, Pope Francis will make his first visit to the U.S. He will meet with President Obama and address a joint session of Congress. He will then travel to New York to speak at the United Nations. His presentation will be a part of the deliberations that will seek consensus on new international goals for ending hunger and extreme poverty by 2030.

The pope's trip to the U.S. and his advocacy for a global commitment to end hunger reflect recurring themes of his papacy. From the beginning, and even in his choice for his name as pope, he has sought to bring about a "poor church for the poor." He has also challenged other leaders in the church to be "ministers of mercy." In praising a book by Cardinal Walter Kasper, Mercy: the Essence of the Gospel and the Key to the Christian Life, Pope Francis has said that "mercy changes everything; it changes the world by making it less cold and more fair."

In a recent interview in Commonweal magazine, Cardinal Kasper explains, "... the Latin term misericordia means mercy. Misericordia means having a heart for the poor — poor in a large sense, not only material poverty, but also relational poverty, spiritual poverty, cultural poverty ... "

Cardinal Kasper continues, "But mercy is also not opposed to justice. Justice is the minimum we are obliged to do to the other to respect him as a human being — to give him what he must have.  But mercy is the maximum — it goes beyond justice ... Mercy is the fulfillment of justice because what people need is not only formal recognition but love."

This intersection of mercy, justice, and love is at the heart of Bread for the World's work. Only as we are grounded in God's love in Jesus Christ can we persist in urging our nation's leaders to fund specific measures to end hunger by 2030.

The Lutheran theologian Edward Schroeder characterizes the good news that the "kingdom of God has come near" (Mark 1:1-15) as the announcement by Jesus of "a new mercy management system." Jesus offers a new way of living in which people don't get what they deserve — including death — but rather forgiveness and new life (Mark 2:5). In the Gospels, the authority (in Greek, both authorization and power) for this new mercy management system is the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

We hear that good news in first sentences of Pope Francis' Apostolic Exhortation, The Joy of the Gospel: "The joy of the Gospel fills the hearts and lives of all who encounter Jesus. Those who accept his offer of salvation are set free from sin, sorrow, inner emptiness, and loneliness. With Christ joy is constantly born anew."

Bread has invited all of us to increase our commitment to pray, act, and give. From that wellspring, we press our nation's decision makers to join other nations in ending hunger once and for all. In this work, we draw strength and purpose from God's mercy that fills us with joy each day. Born anew through the water of our baptisms and nourished by the Bread of Life in the Eucharist, we share the joy of Zechariah in Luke's Gospel (1:78-79):

By the tender mercy of our God, 
   the dawn from on high will break upon us,
to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death
   to guide our feet into the way of peace.

Advocates Spring Into Action to End Hunger

By Margaret Tran

About a hundred people from nonprofit organizations and churches in New York put pen to paper last month and wrote letters to their member of Congress, urging them to reauthorize the child nutrition bill.

Bread for the World and Catholic Charities of New York organized an Offering of Letters at St. Peter’s Church and New York Catholic Youth Day, both in Yonkers, and at St. Cecilia’s Church in East Harlem. Catholic Charities Community Services of Rockland County in Haverstraw plans to host one in the future. GuadalupeandJoyceMerino

It is vital that Congress hears from their constituents, especially since over 16 million children in the U.S. don’t always know where their next meal is coming from.

This fall, the legislation that funds child nutrition programs will expire. The bill funds five major programs: National School Lunch Program, School Breakfast Program, Summer Food Service Program, Child and Adult Care Food Program, and the WIC Program. These programs serve roughly 40 million adults and children nationwide.

New York high school students were busy during New York Catholic Youth Day. They were simultaneously involved in a Feeding Our Neighbors food drive and an Offering of Letters. The students and their youth group leaders donated hundreds of pounds of food to local pantries and wrote letters to members of Congress, urging them to support the child nutrition programs.

Youth groups were eager to write letters since they personally know students who struggle with hunger and depend on school meals every day as their only source of nutrition. Leaders were eager to have their entire parish act to end hunger, planning to take what they learned that day back home to encourage a parish-wide Offering of Letters.

At St. Peter’s, our message of advocacy was translated into Spanish. Parishioners learned about child hunger during our presentation at Plaza, a social gathering area after Spanish mass where parishioners sell home-cooked lunches. While their children played nearby, the parents were inspired to write letters after hearing that 1 in 5 children in the U.S. struggle with hunger.  Father Jose Felix Ortega, priest at St. Peter’s, blessed all the letters during mass the following Sunday before they were sent to Congress.

The senior leaders of the various ministry groups at St. Cecilia’s also participated in an Offering of Letters. After huddling to pray over the letters with Father Peter Mushi, the leaders were empowered to lead an Offering of Letters for their respective ministry groups in the coming weeks. Flor Abad, case manager for Catholic Charities Community Services at St. Cecilia’s, said she was pleased that all the leaders were enthusiastic about advocacy since so many in the community are struggling.

“At St. Cecilia’s food pantry, I see families in need. I hear people who have 5, 6, 7 children in the house and don’t have food,” Abad said.

Catholic Charities Community Services of Rockland County (CCCSR) will host a future Offering of Letters that will engage youth from county parishes to write letters to Congress. The goal will be ambitious – 1,000 letters ahead of CCCSR’s annual September hunger awareness action event.

“Policies and community efforts to increase access and provide education and resources is needed. Our goal is to build a greater sense of community awareness and build an advocacy group to end hunger,” said Martha Robles, executive director of CCCSR.

Margaret Tran is a regional organizer at Bread for the World.

Photo inset: Guadalupe Merino, a St. Cecilia parishioner, writes a letter to Congress, while her daughter, Joyce Merino, takes a nap in her arms. Margaret Tran/Bread for the World.

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