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    ELCA World Hunger staff and associates write about root causes of hunger, current events, and anything else they find pertinent.

    Occupying and Attending the World Food Prize

    Posted on November 5, 2013 by henrymartinez

     

    wfp bannerTwo weeks ago, I traveled to Des Moines, Iowa, to attend the World Food Prize’s Borlaug Dialogues series.  The prize is based on the vision of Norman Borlaug, founder of the “green revolution,” whose work focused on increasing the yield and durability of plants.  As you can probably imagine, the World Food Prize (WFP) has come under criticism in recent years for its focus on high-yield, high-profit productivity.  (Having DuPont and Monsanto as major sponsors will do that to you.)

    Meanwhile and elsewhere in Des Moines…a relatively small but vocal group had organized an “Occupy the World Food Prize” campaign to voice a variety of complaints about the WFP.  Central among their complaints was the WFP’s decision to honor three “biotechnologists,” including an executive from Monsanto and a researcher for Syngenta, two companies known for their work with genetically-modified organisms (GMOs).

    Fortunately, I was able to attend both the Borlaug Dialogues and an event sponsored by the Occupy folks.  Talk about a study in contrasts!  It was striking to hear two vastly different perspectives on agriculture, food and solving hunger.  The contrast brought to the fore some important debates that can be heard even among ELCA World Hunger folks.

    grimsson at wfp

    President Grimsson of Iceland speaking at the World Food Prize.

    The WFP hosted a “Who’s Who” of corporate and public figures, including former Prime Minister Tony Blair, Howard G. Buffett, President Grímsson of Iceland, and the executive officers or presidents of several large corporations.  They spoke of public-private partnerships, corporate investment and trade policies.  The major events ceremony was filled with pomp and circumstance, the awardees heralded by ceremonial horns.

    By contrast, the attendees at the Occupy event at First United Methodist Church were college students and community activists, dressed in jeans and serenaded by a guitar-playing troubadour waxing poetic about the differences between being “the shovel or the s—.”  In sharp tones punctuated by applause and cheering, the speakers railed against “corporate greed” and political influence.  They praised the “grassroots” and the “power of the people.”  Public-private partnerships are the very symbol of corruption and injustice in their eyes.

    turkson at occupy wpf

    Cardinal Peter Turkson addresses the Occupy the World Food Prize crowd.

    The differences here beg the question: where does legitimate power come from?  Is solving hunger a “grasstops” campaign or a “grassroots” movement?  In the wilderness, the devil tempts Jesus by offering him control of all the kingdoms on earth (Matt. 4:8-9).  Jesus rebukes the devil, choosing instead the life of servanthood and solidarity among the “grassroots,” a life that leads him to the cross.  But what a ruler Jesus might have been!  What does this say about not only how we exercise power, but what kind of power we seek?  Is there room for both power from above and power from below?

    Agribusiness or Agriculture?

    “it is true; agriculture is a business…” – Eve Ntseoane, WFP panelist

    “We must bring agribusiness into [the conversation and highlight] the opportunities of farming as a business, as entrepreneurship.” – Mpule Kwelagobe, WFP panelist

    “Corporate interests have re-made agriculture in their own image…farming is ‘good business’ because it is a way of life…It’s agriculture not agribusiness.” – Jim Hightower at Occupy the WFP event

    Is food production a way of life – a culture – or is it a profit-driven business?  The difference might seem trivial – a matter of semantics – but the perspective each offers is vastly important.  Consider: “The emphasis seems to shift from perceiving food as a ‘commodity to be consumed’ to food as an ‘unexpected gift to be received’…” (Samuel Torvend, Luther and the Hungry Poor: Gathered Fragments, 98.)  What do we lose and what do we gain by shifting farming from culture to business?

    Us or Them?

    The language of “insiders” and “outsiders” was muted at the WFP, though to be honest, the folks in attendance with whom I spoke seemed reluctant to ask questions about the role of power in decision-making.  Unsurprisingly, this was not the case at the Occupy event.  Here, the presenters were clear: some “insiders” have power, and they tend to abuse it.  The mass of “outsiders” without financial or political power must use their numbers to seize power from the “greedheads” and “money elites.”  There was a clear division between “insiders” – those with wealth and influence on their side – and “outsiders” – agitators with morality on their side.

    Is there room for both in the movement to end hunger?  In an ideal situation, those with traditional power will listen to those with “people” power to correct injustice.  Practically speaking, though, two obstacles make this very difficult.  On the one hand, the “insiders” must allow the grassroots to have a place at the table.  On the other hand, the “outsiders” must take the risk that this table is a place where authentic dialogue about solving hunger can occur.  “Whoever is not against us is for us” (Mark 9:40).  “Whoever is not with me is against me…” (Matthew 12:30).  Which is it?  Must we choose?

    The contrast between the two events was thought-provoking for me.  Where do you stand on these important debates about solving hunger?  Does power come from above or below?  Is food a commodity or a gift?  With whom should we form networks?  What do we gain when we take a side on any of these issues?  What do we lose?

    Ryan P. Cumming is Program Director for Hunger Education, ELCA World Hunger.

    Book Review: Courage to Think Differently

    Posted on October 25, 2013 by henrymartinez

    courage

    By Lily R. Wu

    “To make a difference in solving the problem of hunger and poverty, we need to think differently,” says George S. Johnson, former director of the American Lutheran Church’s hunger program. “Jesus was constantly encouraging people to look at deeper questions that don’t have easy answers.”

    Fresh, compelling anthology
    Pastor Johnson’s new book, Courage to Think Differently, is for people of faith who want to open up their thinking and explore new directions. We virtually “meet” more than 30 well-known thinkers and read their insights on the earth’s survival and our own. The compilation is so creative and spiritually compelling that it practically glows in my hands.

    The contributors are widely known for being prophetic in their fields.  The presentations are brief.  The book helps us get beyond vague wishing, to wrestle with what it means today to “do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with God” (Micah 6:8).

    The essays are generally very readable — popularly written as I prefer, rather than heavily academic.  Some will require more study on my part, and less study from readers more politically astute.  That tells me I’m not going to outgrow this book for quite a while.

    I wouldn’t call it “light reading,” but I do enjoy how it seeks to be popular while not compromising on its content.  The range is definitely broad.  For example, a seasoned hunger advocate or professor might readily appreciate the two-page “Responses to World Hunger” Appendix chart as a teaching tool.   Others might need more explanation between the lines. But overall, I think the panoramic view is solid.

    Glen Gersmehl, national coordinator of Lutheran Peace Fellowship, says, “This is an extraordinary volume: inspiring, rewarding, even exhilarating.  It stirs up fresh thinking and motivation.  It reminds me of the very best collections I’ve ever read on important themes, like Paul Loeb’s The Impossible Will Take a Little While.  And it’s perfect for discussion groups, because the leader can assign some essays for advance reading while making others optional.  We just ordered a couple of boxes for our core leaders and congregational forums.”

    Sampling of authors
    Examples of contributors include Diana Butler Bass, Walter Brueggemann, Shane Claiborne, Elisabeth Schussler Fiorenza, David Korten, Brian McLaren, Bill Moyers, Larry Rasmussen, Vandana Shiva, Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite, and Elie Wiesel.

    Contributor Frances Moore Lappé, who also wrote the foreword, writes, “The world now calls us to go beyond beneficence, to stop berating ourselves for not being good enough and to get on with the task of being powerful enough: to embrace our fear and to join with others to use its energy.”

    Diversely helpful
    Peace and justice newcomers
    and mentors — will appreciate Appendix Teaching Aids such as “The Shakertown Pledge” (nine declarations for world citizens); ”How to Hang in There for the Long Haul” (21 notes for activists); and “10 Reasons for Choosing a Simpler Lifestyle.”

    Adult education groups can study the Bible via “Rich Man and Lazarus;” “God Takes Sides;” and “Jesus and Biblical Interpretation.”

    Seminarians, missional classes and pastor’s groups
    can grapple with “The Peril of Worshiping Jesus;” “Idols in the Church;” “New Climate for Theology;” and “Remember the Poor.”

    Hunger and globally-minded advocates can draw from “Taking Oppression Seriously;”  “Destroying Small Farmers;” and “Down to Earth Economy” for their speaking and teaching.

    Experienced activists can explore “Winner-Take-All Politics;” “Sacramentalism and Eco-Feminism;” and “Global Exploitation.”

    For anyone, there’s “Appearing Before the Authorities;” “Letter from a Birmingham Jail;” and more.

    Caveats
    Johnson offers a few caveats.  First, this book isn’t about giving pat answers or dispensing guilt.  And though “things are not working” for most of God’s children and God’s creation, “more generosity is not the answer. A new mindset is called for, that asks questions such as ‘Am I believing in Christ, or following Christ? ‘ ”

    He goes on to say that not every reader will change, or needs to change. As contributor John Cobb, Jr., adds, think for yourself; you may come to “conclusions that are quite different from those presented.”

    How it’s organized
    Seven main section headings suggest the breadth and depth of the content: Irrelevant Religion and Idolatry, Exclusion and Thin Democracy, Biblical Certitudes and Ignorance, Individualism and Cheap Grace, Ecological Crisis and Greed, Silence and Job Insecurity, and Empire and Civil Religion.

    Some appendix entries were so good for new activists that they left me thirsting for more.  The book is not always snappy and quick; it’s one to sit with and reflect on.  But learning to grow in courage is important and takes time. At its best, this book is unusually engaging and definitely time well-invested.

    BOOK REVIEW

    Courage to Think Differently

    George S. Johnson

    2013 Adventure Publications

    ISBN 987-0-9703028-1-6

    Availability: www.adventurepublications.net   (enter book title into search box).  Also, signed copies available from lpf@ecunet.org (as supplies last), $10 including p+h, or free with a contribution of $75 or more.

     

    Reviewer Lily R. Wu is a web content writer-editor in New York City and a board member of Lutheran Peace Fellowship, based in Seattle.

    The Gospel in Syria

    Posted on September 11, 2013 by henrymartinez

    ‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
    because he has anointed me
    to bring good news to the poor.
                 He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives
               and recovery of sight to the blind,
                    to let the oppressed go free,
                         to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.’ Luke 4:18-19

    Debates about intervention in Syria are raging right now.  Thankfully, it seems as if a diplomatic solution may be at hand.  While we can be cautiously optimistic about this, it is far from a perfect answer to the problem of suffering in Syria. In the midst of the argument about whether Syria should be punished with military strikes or chastened with diplomacy, one key fact is lost.  Whatever the response is, the poor will most likely lose. 

    From the prophets’ sharp words against those who mistreat the needy (see Isaiah 10:1-2; Amos 8:4-6; and Ezekiel 22:23-31), to Jesus’ proclamation in Luke, the Bible witnesses to God’s particular concern for the lives and well-being of the poor and needy.  Whether we look at the law in Deuteronomy 15, the Gospel of Luke, or the commands of Christ in Matthew 25: 34-40, the Bible is also clear that Christians are likewise called to show this concern.

    What does this mean practically?  It doesn’t mean that we must shout from the mountaintops that wealth is wrong and all rich people are evil.  Nor does it mean that we believe all poor people are godly.  Instead, having a special concern for the poor means that when we think about justice and consider the right thing to do as a society or country, Christians are called to ask first, “How does this affect the poor?”

    ACT/Paul Jeffrey

    ACT/Paul Jeffrey

    Since the conflict in Syria began in Spring 2011, the median salary in Syria has fallen 41%.  The costs of goods like food, fuel, and electricity, meanwhile have increased exponentially. The UN’s World Food Programme reported in July 2013 that nearly 4 million Syrians are unable to secure food for themselves, a situation made worse by economic sanctions against the Syrian government.  Farmers are not able to obtain parts for machinery or export their goods.  Oil production is down almost 80%, while inflation due to a lack of foreign investment is up almost 50%.  Sanctions have also made it difficult for Syrians to obtain medicines and vaccines.

    The diplomatic solution offered by Russia may ensure that chemical weapons are no longer used in the conflict.  A military strike may do the same.  But we should not be so optimistic as to believe that the status quo of economic sanctions is without its own form of suffering.  Is it really a victory if we prevent children from being “gassed to death” only to allow them to die a slower death from hunger or disease? 

    As we ask the pressing questions about intervention and diplomacy, we, as a church called to serve “the least of these,” should ask a different question of ourselves: What is the “good news” we are called to reveal to the poor in Syria?  We join with other people of goodwill in debating the US’s response to the crisis, but our focus must be on what else the international community is going to do to protect the poor, who are most vulnerable in this situation.  The Lutheran World Federation is trying to do this in Jordan by managing a large refugee camp there.  The 120,000 refugees in that camp are few, given the 2 million refugees from Syria, but they are still greater in the number than the merely 2,000 Syrian refugees that the US has invited in to our country.  Does being concerned for the poor mean asking our government to increase the number of refugees it will allow in?  Perhaps.  Does caring for the vulnerable mean looking for ways to lift sanctions and control inflation in Syria?  Maybe.  Though the solution is uncertain, the challenge is clear: protecting the vulnerable must mean more than merely solving the problem of chemical weapons. How will we bring “good news to the poor” and “proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor” in the midst of this conflict?

    To support the work of the ELCA and its companions in Syria, please visit www.elca.org/Syria.

    Ryan P. Cumming is the Program Director for Hunger Education for ELCA World Hunger.

     

     

    ELCA Hunger Education Grants

    Posted on September 5, 2013 by henrymartinez

    Evangelical Lutheran Church in America World Hunger

    Hunger Education Grant Program

    Fall/Winter 2013

    ELCA World Hunger is eager to support educational efforts that help reach our goals of teaching, organizing, and mobilizing Lutherans to fight hunger and poverty in our communities and around the world.  ELCA Hunger Education grants are available to support local ELCA efforts to educate and mobilize ELCA congregations, groups, and/or synods toward better action and engagement against hunger and poverty.  This particular grant program is most appropriate for ELCA congregations, synod teams, or organizations which seek to teach others about the root causes and solutions of hunger.

    We are looking for 2-3 page proposals submitted by a non-profit charitable organization classified as a 501(c)(3) public charity by the Internal Revenue Service, or operate under the fiscal sponsorship of a 501(c)(3) that must:

    1. Summarize how the proposal relates to the ELCA World Hunger Education Objectives and Guidelines
    2. Summarize how the project, event, or initiative will:a) Educate and mobilize ELCA congregations, groups, and/or synods; b) Influence this church body toward better action and engagement against hunger and poverty; and c) Encourage sustainable participation in the anti-hunger work of ELCA World Hunger
    3.  Summarize the implementation and/or sustainability of your plan (identifying additional sources of funding if needed.)
    4. List two or three specific, measurable goals by which the success of your proposal implementation will be evaluated.
    5. The amount of funding you are seeking. Please include a budget for the event.
    6. Demonstrate an ELCA connection with one letter of support by an ELCA pastor, bishop, or Lutheran agency/institution that explains how a relationship between the organization and ELCA World Hunger impacts/enhances each other’s work and furthers the objectives and guidelines of ELCA World Hunger.
    7. Include your organization’s name, address, contact person, email, phone number, and tax ID number with your proposal.

    Proposals must be received by December 31, 2013 to be considered for funding. Although the amount of funding depends on a number of factors, accepted proposals this past year have received an average of $2000.

    If you have any questions please email hunger@elca.org.

    You have the stories

    Posted on September 4, 2013 by henrymartinez

    ELCA_25art_PMS124This Sunday, September 8, congregations throughout the ELCA will be taking part in “God’s Work. Our Hands” Sunday, where they are encouraged to engage in a service activity in their neighborhood or surrounding community.

    Which got me thinking: in ELCA World Hunger we get to hear some wonderful stories from congregations, synod teams and other groups in the ELCA who are moved by their faith to respond to alleviate hunger and poverty in their communities. These stories, communicated through blogs, newsletters, or word-of-mouth, remind us that the work of ELCA World Hunger is geographically diverse and often happens without much fanfare.

    But telling these stories is also witnessing to how God is at work among us. Jonathan Trapp of Southeastern Synod’s Hunger, Poverty and Justice Task Force stated this well following the ELCA World Hunger Leadership Gathering in Des Moines:

    If we are in an environment where people are talking about the ways they see God at work, we will begin to look around and remember that God is faithful to God’s promises and ever-present and active in the world.  But if we don’t tell our stories and proclaim the good news that is our stories, people may not see God’s work. Despair can set in and faith can be lost.

    Sharing the story is witnessing to the work of God. So we want to hear from you. Whether you have plans for engaging in anti-hunger or anti-poverty efforts for this Sunday, or have  blog or ongoing efforts that you would like others to know about, like Welcome to the Table in Southwest Idaho, we want to know what’s going on out there in the world of ELCA World Hunger. We know God is doing great work through you. Let us know by emailing your stories, blogs or pictures to us at hunger@elca.org.

    Henry Martinez serves as an associate for hunger education in ELCA World Hunger.

    New Service Learning Resources

    Posted on August 29, 2013 by henrymartinez

    By Justin Rabbach

    Have you been looking for a way to engage groups and enhance volunteer field guideactivities? Check out this new resource from ELCA World Hunger!

    Digging In: A Leader’s Guide to Service Learning is designed to help you plan your next service opportunity. This guide was developed in consultation with the Service and Learning Leadership Team, a group that has studied and worked on developing meaningful service learning experiences.  This guide is organized into four steps (Preparation, Action, Reflection and Celebration) and will walk you through how to make the most out of your group’s service project. Using this model will help guide your group to dig into the deeper learning that service opportunities have to offer. You will learn how to apply what you learn in other contexts, and how to share your learning with your congregation.

    Final Placemat Version #1-page-001In addition to the leader’s guide, placemat resources have been developed that act as a worksheet and summarize the work of ELCA World Hunger. The placemat highlights areas of work and the comprehensive approach ELCA World Hunger uses to address the root causes of hunger and poverty. Then, flip it over and each participant can walk through the four steps of service learning as it applies to the specific service opportunity. Together with the field guide this resource is a great way to prepare for your activity, and to have a tangible reflection piece that will help you to share about your experience and how it relates to the collective work of the church to eradicate hunger and poverty through ELCA World Hunger. Order or download it now on the resource store at elca.org/hunger!

    Justin Rabbach is the Youth Group Organizer for ELCA World Hunger.

    Our new Hunger Education Director

    Posted on August 21, 2013 by henrymartinez

    Ryan

    We’ve asked Ryan Cumming, new Director for Hunger Education to introduce himself. Welcome Ryan!

    I should tell you from the outset that I’m not very good at autobiography. When doing research, we are trained to remove ourselves as much as possible from our writing – to be objective or detached. Of course, that’s never really the case.  It’s not even ideal. Detached work of any kind is passionless work.  The most compelling work – whether it is writing or any other type – is the work shaped by personal experience, by the story of a person called to it.  (On this, I highly recommend the recent book Theologians in Their Own Words by Derek Nelson, Joshua Moritz, and Ted Peters.) As I have begun my new position as Director for Hunger Education for ELCA World Hunger, the most interesting part of my job has been listening to the stories of the hard-working, passionate people with whom I work. All of my colleagues bring their experiences, wisdom, and faith to bear on their work for the church, and I am fortunate to count myself among them.  Each of us has followed a different path that has led us to work in the church as community organizers, fundraisers, networkers, educators, pastors, and so on.

    Maybe my story might include the various jobs I have had, from truck driver to factory worker to movie extra to college professor. None of these roles, though, is quite as important as the moment I “discovered” faith at Capital University, which might sound odd coming from a lifelong Lutheran involved in church activities since childhood. At “Cap,” I saw a faith that was far from comforting.  It was challenging, it refused to give all of the answers. This was a faith that accepted tension and that forced me to wrestle with it. It was the faith of St. Augustine, writing his Confessions, or Martin Luther making his stand. This Lutheran faith pulls us into a world filled with ambiguity, anguish, suffering, and injustice and tells us, “Find grace. It is here.”

    In my work, it is impossible to ignore the sin that allows millions to suffer and die from lack of food or clean water or medicine. But it is equally impossible to ignore the grace that moves congregations to serve meals, that shapes our public advocacy, that supports new mission starts and global and local initiatives to confront suffering effectively.  This work is done by folks with diverse stories, who are drawn together by their faith and their commitment to accompany one another in confronting despair with hope, anguish with relief, marginalization with solidarity, and the reality of sin with the power of grace.  I am blessed to be part of our work together, and I look forward to hearing your stories and sharing in the work God does with our hands.

    Ryan Cumming is the Director of Hunger Education for ELCA World Hunger.

    A “Farewell” from a summer intern

    Posted on August 9, 2013 by henrymartinez

    By Brittani Lamb

    As my time at ELCA World Hunger comes to a close, I’ve been thinking a lot about what this experience has meant to me. I decided to do this internship not only because it complements my social work education well, but also because I wanted to strengthen my connection to the church. As a life-long Lutheran, I’ve never been too far from the church. I was an active participant in my home congregation and synod growing up. I attended the National Youth Gathering in New Orleans and went as a voting delegate to the Churchwide Assembly in 2009. I chose St. Olaf in part because it is a Lutheran college. I also worked at a Lutheran camp for two summers. I strongly believe my life has only been enriched by these experiences, but I still felt there was a piece missing in my spiritual life.

    I’m sure many of you have read the recent CNN article that has gone viral on Facebook and other sites titled “Why Millennials Are Leaving the Church.” While I am not one of the millennials who is leaving, I do see many connections in this article to my own feelings towards the church and the things I see among my peers. One thing that stood out to me the most was this: “We’re not leaving the church because we don’t find the cool factor there; we’re leaving the church because we don’t find Jesus there.” While I don’t agree with this statement, I definitely know of people who do. I have been blessed with rich opportunities such as this internship and others that have given me a chance to truly see Jesus in the church, but I can see how others don’t. There are places in the church where we don’t always act in a way Jesus would have.

    One thing my generation (and others who are leaving the church) really wants to see is the justice that Jesus lived out. This is the piece that I felt was missing from my spirituality. Now, I have made that connection through ELCA World Hunger. This summer I have seen and become involved in what the church is doing to work for justice in the United States and across the world. I have also seen how things that don’t seem directly connected to justice (like fundraising or sitting in a cubicle responding to emails all day) are integral to justice work and equally important. Something I really appreciate about the church that I have seen here this summer is that everyone has the attitude that they are working for and with the church and are a part of God’s work. It is truly inspiring to see people living out their vocation every day.

    I would like to say thank you to everyone who has supported me this summer and all those who support ELCA World Hunger. Working here has truly been a blessing and I can’t wait to see where this experience leads me next!

    This is Brittani  Lamb’s final post as an intern for ELCA World Hunger.

    My Place at the Table

    Posted on July 30, 2013 by henrymartinez

    A-Place-At-The-Table

    By Jesse McClain

    Have you ever thought about the limitations and struggles of depending on government assistance programs? A new report from the Associated Press concluded that four out of five adults in the United States will struggle with unemployment, near poverty, and reliance on welfare programs at some point in their lives. This means that roughly 80% of neighbors, coworkers, family members and friends will have a story of living in poverty, a story of pain, and a story they don’t know how to start telling.

    One of my main tasks this summer as an ELCA World Hunger Intern was to assist our team in the logistic planning of the ELCA World Hunger Leadership Gathering (ELCA WHLG). On the opening night of the ELCA WHLG our group gathered to watch the documentary A Place at the Table. If you haven’t had a chance to watch the movie– do it! I think the film allows for some great discussion about hunger and poverty in America. (You can buy the movie for $15 on Amazon as well a ton a free resources on the movies website if you want to show the movie at a church event.)

    Barbie Izquierdo was one of the people whose story featured in the documentary. She is a single mother trying to make her way and feed her kids. Barbie joined us at the ELCA WHLG and represents the story of so many people in the U.S. who struggle to eat within the limited confines of little to no income and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Plan (SNAP). The average SNAP allocation is just around $4.50 per day on food, which is not enough for most people to get everything their body needs to be healthy.

    The movie and Barbie’s presentation at WHLG hit very close to home. I grew up in a very poor home with a single parent who couldn’t make ends meet on her own. We often relied on the immediate relief programs available in my community for food, rent, and other utilities. My mom worked full time at Big Lots and made a little too much to receive SNAP, but barely made enough to survive. During the school year my younger brother and I would eat two free meals at school and eat dinner at home, so we were able to just scrape by. We struggled the most in the summers because my mom was suddenly responsible for three meals a day for two growing boys. Most summers we would only have a package of corn tortillas, lettuce, and ranch dressing in our fridge. We would heat up a tortilla, stuff it with lettuce and some ranch and called it summer tacos. That is all we would eat most days. To me that was normal. My family never had money to worry about eating healthy; we ate what we could afford.

    At the end of the film Barbie gives a speech where she says, “You are where you come from.” My mom grew up in a similar situation as my brother and I did. She never graduated high school and had to work from a very early age to survive. Statistically, I should be heading down the same path. It was the love and work of the church that sent me down a different path that would break the chain. It was the after school programs in my home congregation that took me to visit colleges and pushed me to do well in school. It was the assistance given to my family in our worst times to get back on our feet. It was the constant love and support given to us by our congregation. I now sit here as a college graduate with so many amazing opportunities in front of me. The chain has been broken.

    There are ways to end hunger and poverty. There is a feasible end goal. We as a church have the opportunity to fight hunger and be part of breaking the chain with and for so many in our nation and abroad.

    Want to learn more about what the experience of the SNAP program would be like? ELCA World Hunger is currently producing “Food for a Week,” which is a hunger simulation that will give participants a better view into the SNAP application process and how much food can actually be purchased with SNAP benefits. This program will roll out on ELCA World Hunger website in the next couple months.

    Jesse is an intern with ELCA World Hunger.

    Running for Hunger

    Posted on July 26, 2013 by henrymartinez
    Running for Hunger

    Running for Hunger!

    By Brittani Lamb

    I ran a 5K last Sunday to raise money for a local food shelf in Elmhurst, IL. It was a fun race and because of generous sponsors, all the money from participants’ race entry fees went directly to the food shelf and we raised over $20,000. That’s a pretty big chunk of change for a small food shelf, so it was quite exciting for both the organizers and the participants! I was very happy to be a part of the event.

    However, I couldn’t help but remember Bishop Hanson’s call to hunger leaders at the recent ELCA World Hunger Leadership Gathering in Des Moines, Iowa. He thanked us for being marathon runners, because the fight against hunger is not a sprint. We will not end hunger with one food drive – it will take a long term commitment.

    Now, I know not everyone thinks of 3.1 miles as a sprint, but compared to a marathon it is relatively short! In a way, volunteering time or giving money to food shelves is also a sprint. Food shelves provide individuals and families an important and immediate need and can be a good opportunity for education and advocacy. They can also be a great way to get people introduced to hunger issues, just as 5Ks are often a starting point for people who hope to someday run a longer race.

    Food shelves are just one of the many responses of addressing hunger. In order to become a marathon runner for hunger, it is important to take the bigger picture into account. Once people have run their first 5K (or had their first food drive), then they can become a marathon runner by moving into advocacy, education and development.

    But how do we do this? Education is a great place to start. It’s easier to get people involved once they know more. ELCA World Hunger has many great resources available to help with education in your congregation, community or synod. Advocacy is also something people can get involved in. Write letters to your representatives or work with private companies to ensure that their policies consider people who are at an economic disadvantage. Finally, work towards sustainability. Sustainable development doesn’t happen overnight, but with a marathon commitment. We have to make sure that all the relief, education and advocacy work we do is viable in the long run (no pun intended there!). Check out the ELCA World Hunger website to learn more about relief and sustainable development. The Young Adults in Global Mission also has an eye toward development in their service and learning opportunity.

    How have you worked to train sprinters to become marathon runners? I’d love to hear your stories in the comments!

    Brittani Lamb is an intern with ELCA World Hunger.