I’ve been reading lots of interesting statistics recently. Combine them and they become sobering very quickly. An example:

From The New York Times: Indonesians spend 50% of their budgets on food, Vietnamese spend 65%, Nigerians spend 73%. The poorest fifth of American households spend 16% of their budgets on eating.

Here are some statistics from The World Bank: Global food prices are up 83% in the past year and a half or so, 36 countries are experiencing food security crises, and prices are expected to remain high through at least 2009.

So what happens when you put those facts together? What’s a community to do when they already spend over half of their income on food, and the costs nearly double? Riots are one of the answers, a way of demanding help from governments and the attention of whomever is listening.

It makes me glad to be living in America. We certainly have our share of problems, and we can’t be proud of how many of our citizens live in poverty and with food insecurity. But as recession looms (or arrives?) and we look to our government, they give us an ecomonic stimulus rebate check. I know it doesn’t solve all of our problems, and arguably creates new ones. I know it doesn’t reach everyone. But the majority of us are still eating, and many of us are still eating very well. I am grateful that my government is both able and willing to respond to an economic downturn.

The ELCA Conference of Bishops recently pledged to tithe their economic stimulus rebate checks to ministries that serve people living in poverty. I think this is a great idea! The intent of the checks is upheld; the money is injected back into the economy so that goods and services are purchased, so that people keep their jobs, earn paychecks, etc. In maintaining the economy, we strive to avoid the conditions that lead to riots. And if those of us who are able donate some or all of our rebates to poverty-related ministries (like ELCA World Hunger!), the money can be put back into the economy by organizations and people with more urgent needs than our own.