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.