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Hunger Policy Podcast: May 18, 2021


We know that hunger is not just a matter of food but a matter of policy. Public policies impact where our food comes from, the kinds of food we eat, how we acquire food – and what our options are when we don’t have enough. In this new kind of post for the ELCA World Hunger blog, John Johnson, director of domestic policy for the ELCA, joins Ryan Cumming, program director for hunger education with ELCA World Hunger, for a conversation about hunger and policy, including important public policies that could impact people experiencing hunger and poverty in the United States. Links to both the audio and the video are below.

Interested in more conversations like this about hunger and policy? Are there specific public policy issues you’d like to hear about? Let us know! Email to share your feedback and ideas.

Subscribe to the ELCA World Hunger blog, and sign up to join the ELCA’s network of advocates.

(If you are one of our regular subscribers to the ELCA World Hunger blog and reading this via email, the audio and video files may not show up. Just click on the title of the post to head over to the main blog webpage to listen in.)


Walking Together During the Government Shutdown – How to Help


The shutdown causes worry and doubt about when I will be able to return to work. I wonder if this will continue – how will I be able to make ends meet? I think the church can walk with those affected by the shutdown by raising the concerns of those impacted to lawmakers. Let elected leaders know their communities are being negatively affected. Churches can also be part of providing emergency assistance and relief to those in need. -Richard, furloughed federal worker and ELCA World Hunger leader, Washington, D.C.

During this government shutdown, those affected are at the front of our minds – and we know you share in this care and concern, too.

The current shutdown impacts many of us and our neighbors – from furloughed federal workers waiting for paychecks to hungry families worrying that the help they need to purchase food may not be there next month.

ELCA World Hunger and the MEANS Database have put together this short, practical list of things to consider and do to help our neighbors. Read and share. But most importantly, remember all our neighbors facing the immediate effects of financial uncertainty during this critical time.

Five Ways to Walk Together During the Shutdown

Check-in with your local food pantries, feeding ministries and other emergency shelters.

People facing food insecurity and the programs and ministries that help them are at significant risk during an extended shutdown. Federally-funded programs like SNAP, which help provide support to families facing hunger, have been able to send out payments for our neighbors in need this month and, thanks to a plan put together by the USDA earlier this week, through the end of February, too. But if the shutdown lasts into March or beyond, this funding will run out. Other anti-hunger programs are in danger, too. The Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program, which provides nutrition for pregnant women and children under age 5, faces the same lapse in funds as SNAP, as does TEFAP, which is a primary way food banks and pantries get access to affordable foods for their clients.

Does your congregation have or host a food-related ministry? Stop by and check-in; ask how things are going. What are they seeing and hearing from guests? Ask what the ministry or service provider needs most right now – the answer may surprise you.

If you’re a rostered leader, consider stopping by the space before opening and offering a supportive blessing for the space and those that will share time together today.

Host a “pop-up” food drive.

Once you’ve checked in with your local hunger ministry, host a food drive to help provide the resources they’ve told you they need most. ELCA World Hunger’s “Road Map to Food Drives” resource can get you started.


Pray personally and publicly for those who govern, those experiencing hardship due to the shutdown and those who walk with them. As the nation waits for agreement on a new spending authorization, pray that God will guide legislators in their work and will be with our neighbors affected by the government shutdown.

Make a monetary donation to a feeding ministry – locally or globally.

Providing physical food resources through a drive is good, but cash is often better. Cash in hand for your local pantry often means more cans on the shelf than you can buy at the grocery store.

Reach out and support those directly feeling the strain – listen and help make those voices heard.

Who in your congregation, school and community might be affected? Reach out, send a text, let them know you care. What do they need? If you are directly affected yourself, speak that truth and share your story as you can. Consider writing a letter to the editor of your local newspaper or website, sharing a temple talk in church or letting your elected officials know your experience.

For updates, follow ELCA World Hunger and MEANS Database:


ELCA World Hunger

MEANS Database





Proposed Policy Change Will Affect Hungry People


The following guest post from Alaide Vilchis Ibarra, program director, migration policy, for ELCA Advocacy, describes a proposed rule change that will have a dramatic effect on some of our most vulnerable neighbors.

While my husband worked at a small nonprofit and I went to school, we used the Affordable Care Act (ACA) subsidies to be able to afford his health insurance. Not having to choose between his health and other indispensable items made a difference for our family at a pivotal time when we needed support. As I write this, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is considering proposing a rule change that would harm families that have accessed public benefits, just like my family once did.

This expected rule will raise barriers for people to obtain and maintain legal immigration status in the U.S. if they or their dependents access public benefits such as Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), Affordable Care Act (ACA) insurance subsidies, and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Historically, the U.S. government has restricted immigration applications if they determined an immigrant would be a “public charge,” that is, if they would likely depend on cash assistance or long-term medical care. This rule change will greatly expand this definition to harm people whose dependents, including U.S. citizen children, have had to access public benefits.

As a church, the ELCA has long advocated for healthcare for vulnerable populations, SNAP, and WIC. As people of faith, we have ministries across the country that accompany people that will be hurt by this rule. Families that we worship alongside and minister to have to choose between accessing support for food security and good health or leaving their family vulnerable to separation, a choice no family should have to make.

Programs like WIC and SNAP are vital safety nets for families and often provide the short-term support they need to get through hard economic times. These programs have proven effective in ensuring that families and individuals can avoid long-term poverty and hunger. As people of faith in God’s promise of a world without hunger, Lutherans have long been at the frontlines of providing relief to people living in poverty and food insecurity. But we also believe that one of the core responsibilities of government is ensuring that all people have what they need for healthy lives. In the ELCA’s social statement on economic life, Sufficient, Sustainable Livelihood for All, our church calls for “scrutiny of how specific policies and practices affect people and nations that are the poorest, and changes to make policies of economic growth, trade, and investment more beneficial to those who are poor.”

Scrutiny of this proposed rule change clearly points to the negative impact it will have on people in our communities and congregations who are hungry and in need of assistance.

What can people of faith do?

After the rule is published, there will be a small period for the public to send comments to oppose this rule. The number and content of comments submitted during this period will impact whether the proposed rule is revised. We can make a difference.

If you are participate in a hungry-related ministry, think about how this proposed change might affect you or your community. Then, follow ELCA Advocacy and ELCA World Hunger on social media to receive instructions when the rule change is issued and the comment period begins.

ELCA Advocacy:

Facebook: ELCA Advocacy

Twitter: @ELCAAdvocacy

Advocacy e-alerts: Sign up here.

ELCA World Hunger:

Facebook: ELCA World Hunger

Twitter: @ELCAWorldHunger

By speaking up, people of faith can work together toward a just world where all are fed.


Giving thanks, coming together, looking ahead

A message from The Rev. Amy Reumann, Director, ELCA Advocacy

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

On Election Day and throughout this season, the #ELCAvotes initiative has encouraged Lutherans to live out our baptismal affirmation to “serve all people, following the example of our Lord Jesus,” by engaging in our communities and casting our ballots. Thank you to all the ELCA advocates who contributed to the stewardship of our common life, serving God as faithful and active citizens!

Giving thanks

We thank God for every voter, and for the countless volunteers who worked to ensure their community members could participate in the election process. We are also grateful for all who contributed to a vision for thriving healthy communities by running for office. We pray for the success of the candidates who were elected to office at every level of government. May they receive God’s wisdom in their service to all people.

Coming together

This election season included rhetoric and rancor that has divided and wounded our nation. Christ calls the church to the ministry of reconciliation and gifts us with the Holy Spirit for this work. We have what we need to engage in a common life that extends well beyond Election Day; this includes engaging in deep listening and communal discernment, practicing the art of difficult conversations and actively accompanying those in our communities who are suffering or alienated.

Looking ahead

The work of ELCA Advocacy, grounded in the Gospel and our social teaching, also continues. We look forward to engaging with the new administration, Congress and in state capitols around the country in our core areas of concern to end hunger, alleviate poverty, welcome the stranger and care for creation in the U.S. and globally. We will create and shape policies that reflect this church’s deep commitment to racial and gender justice, and we will work alongside ecumenical and interfaith partners to further God’s work in our world.

Together we will continue to be stewards of our common life by serving God through loving our neighbor as faithful and active citizens.


Yours, In Christ,

The Rev. Amy Reumann

Director, ELCA Advocacy