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Conflict and Hunger Part V: Stability

This post is Part V of a five-part series discussing the many ways that violent conflict impacts hunger. The next key aspect of food security is stability. Is access to food reliable, even during a crisis? Here, we take a look at how conflict impacts this, with specific attention to the crisis in Ukraine. Read Part I and find links to the other posts here.

Stability, in short, means that food production, access, and utilization are reliable and resilient. Put another way, if we can eat today, how sure are we that we will be able to eat tomorrow?

There are two reasons this is important. First, instability and unpredictability change the way people behave. Farmers, for example, become more hesitant to trade, invest or diversify their work. For example, after the civil war in Mozambique in the 1980s and 1990s, farmers tended to focus on subsistence farming and reduced their participation in the market, meaning there was less food produced for other people to purchase and consume. Similarly, farmers may shift away from livestock or away from crop diversification, since doing so seems to pose less risk in the short-term, even if it may have longer-term negative effects.

In Ukraine, one of the current concerns is that farmers may not fertilize their grain crops because of high prices and instability. That would lead to a drastic reduction in the wheat crop for 2022, which could cause further shortages and higher prices globally into 2023. Moreover, the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) notes that fertilizer costs are expected to rise globally, adding to the strain of farmers dependent on them. Russia and Belarus provide a large share of the world’s fertilizer, and their shipments have been significantly interrupted. (Of course, because causes and effects are complex, this situation might actually spawn the positive benefit of focusing attention on increased efficiency of chemical fertilizers and investment in alternative fertilizers that are less destructive to health and the environment, as IFPRI notes.)

The second reason stability is important is because conflict doesn’t happen in a vacuum. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine didn’t bring an end to the ongoing threat of COVID-19 or other diseases. Nor does conflict make climate-related disasters take a hiatus. The most significant risk to food security in a region occurs when multiple shocks coincide.

This is, in part, what makes the food security situation for export-dependent countries so dire right now. In places like Yemen, which depend on grain exports from Russia and Ukraine, the war comes on the heels of a locust swarm that devastated crops and continues to pose a threat to farmland. Moreover, some of the people dependent on exports from Ukraine are in areas facing their own conflict-related crises, such as Afghanistan.

When combined with existing poverty, rising prices, climate events and other conflicts, the shock to the global food system that the war in Ukraine represents could be severe. In the short- to medium-term, the FAO estimates that the conflict could lead to nearly 8 million more people around the world becoming hungry. This is in addition to the refugees and internally displaced people of Ukraine whose lives and livelihoods have been immediately impacted. That increase in hunger would come on the heels of significant growth in undernourishment due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

To sum it up, conflict destabilizes nearly every aspect of our global food system, which is partly why it is often named as the most significant driver of hunger around the world. For most of history, humans could assuage feelings of responsibility or even fear if a conflict emerged halfway around the globe. But our world today is far too connected to believe that borders, oceans or miles can insulate us. The globalized, interconnected food system that each of us is a part of demonstrates politically and economically what we have always known theologically, namely that the safety and well-being of all God’s creation matters, no matter how distant the people involved might seem to be.

The stability of the food system depends on many factors: farmers, workers, bakers, herders and processors who produce food; truck drivers, rail workers, loaders and grocers who make food available; health care workers who tend to nutritional well-being; employers who provide wages to workers so that they can be consumers; utility workers who keep infrastructure running to ensure the safety of food; construction and road workers who ensure there can be adequate transportation of food; and even policymakers who negotiate trade agreements and aid to ensure that the food system is inclusive.

To paraphrase the philosopher Jacques Derrida, when we eat, we never eat alone. We are eating the fruits of God’s creation made possible because of neighbors around the world. And as we eat, we are mindful that the stability of this system on which all of us depend to some extent, depends itself on the truths we are called to pursue: peace and justice.

So, to return to the first post in this series:

The ripple effects of the war in Ukraine could echo throughout the food system for a long time. But we find courage and hope in God who “calls us to hope, even when hope is shrouded by the pall of war” and who, even now, is at work in, among and through peacemakers, supporting neighbors in need and “striving for justice and peace in all the earth.”

What can be done? Providing support to the work that has already begun by giving a gift to Lutheran Disaster Response is one way to help meet the growing need of Ukrainians, especially those who have been displaced by the conflict.

A next step after that is to consider ongoing support of Lutheran Disaster Response and ELCA World Hunger. Some of the long-term consequences described in these posts may be reduced by working with local communities around the world to reduce vulnerability, increase capacity and build resilience against future shocks. This won’t be the last violent conflict; but by working together toward a just world where all are fed – and safe – we can take steps to help prevent the many destructive ripple effects that we may see this year. Supporting food producers; investing in stable, sufficient livelihoods for all people; increasing the capacity of communities to respond to crises; and building a just, sustainable and stable food system will go a long way to ending both hunger and conflict. As António Guterres wrote last year,

We need to tackle hunger and conflict together to solve either.

“Big Dreams” on World Food Day


Announcing ELCA World Hunger’s Big Dream Grant Awards

This World Food Day, ELCA World Hunger is pleased to announce four ministries that have been awarded Big Dream Grants. ELCA World Hunger’s Big Dream Grants, one-time gifts of $10,000 to $75,000, support domestic ministries as they pursue innovative and sustainable approaches to ending hunger. As we reflect on the meaning behind World Food Day and our shared commitment to address hunger until all are fed, we celebrate the big dreams of these ministries and their commitment to excellence.

New this year, ELCA World Hunger’s Big Dream Grant recipients were identified in part based on the contributions of their work toward the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, or SDGs. The SDGs are intended to focus sustainable development toward overcoming poverty, inequality and environmental degradation. ELCA World Hunger is pleased to partner with the Lutheran World Federation as part of its “Waking the Giant” initiative. “Waking the Giant” is a global ecumenical effort which aims to build the capacity of churches to contribute effectively to the SDGs. Churches and partners are focusing on five of the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – Goals 3, 4, 5, 10 and 16 – and the ELCA has an additional focus on Goal 2.

Ministries receiving ELCA World Hunger Big Dream Grants are:

IntegrArte, a ministry hosted in an ELCA congregation in Dorado, Puerto Rico, works with people of all ages to address mental health in a community where mental health services are otherwise inaccessible to many who need them, particularly in the aftermath of Hurricanes Irma and Maria. IntegrArte is building connections between church and community by expanding mental health services within the greater community. IntegrArte is preparing to realize its long-term dream of expanding into a community center that will host programming for older adults, a Montessori school and an emergency shelter.

Through its McClintock Partners In Education (McPIE) ministry, a partnership with the local middle school and community, Christ Lutheran Church in Charlotte, North Carolina fosters an environment where families have the opportunity to thrive through meals, clubs, camps and courses that open up pathways for both youth and parents. Christ Lutheran is increasing the ministry’s capacity to support the economic success of under-served populations in Charlotte through a commitment to bilingual support and the creation of the McClintock Innovation Lab & Library, which will focus on STEM programming.

The Table: A 1st Century Style Community in the 21st Century is a worshipping community in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, reducing barriers to food. The Table provides a place where families can learn to grow the food that they want to eat and fosters learning and entrepreneurial opportunities for community members. Looking ahead, The Table will further drive economic development and empowerment through expanding programming and a longer growing season made possible by new greenhouses.

End Hunger in Calvert County, based in a rural area in Maryland, is a coalition of local churches and other organizations working together to end hunger in the community. End Hunger Calvert County connects food-insecure communities with hunger relief options and works to reduce systemic poverty through a robust workforce program. Now, the organization is blazing new trails as it develops a mobile app to connect low-income families to comprehensive services.

We celebrate the work of these ministries and thank you for your support of ELCA World Hunger as we work together to fight hunger and poverty in the United States and 60 other countries around the world. To learn more about ELCA World Hunger’s approach, visit

At the global level, the “Waking the Giant” initiative provides churches and church-related actors with tools and training to relate their on-going work to the SDGs. At the national level, churches and ecumenical partners set up implementation mechanisms for taking stock of their existing work in relation to the SDGs and engage in joint planning for direct action and advocacy. “Waking the Giant” is currently focused on four target countries: Colombia, Liberia, Tanzania and the United States. The ELCA is hosting and funding the initiative in the United States. To learn more, watch the video below or visit


Youth Gathering Reflections from 2018 Interns


With more than 30,000 youth and adults from across the ELCA, ELCA World Hunger staff were in Houston, Texas, last week for the 2018 National Youth Gathering. The event is a great opportunity for youth and leaders to learn about the many ministries of the ELCA and our partners. This year, as part of ELCA World Hunger’s Global Farm Challenge, youth had the chance to support ELCA World Hunger’s accompaniment of farmers around the world by offering their donations, glimpse a village in Malawi through a 360-degree virtual reality video, and learn about some of the challenges and opportunities smallholder farmers face through the “Field Experience” track. In this interactive track, participants followed the story of a smallholder farmer and tried their best to bring one of four crops – ginger, corn, citrus trees, or rice – from seed to market. ELCA World Hunger’s interns were a critical part of the event, helping to build and staff the track, guiding youth through the “Feld Experience,” and sharing their own passions and wisdom with participants. Below, Jasmine, Hannah, and Petra share some of their reflections on the Youth Gathering – including the ways that the event shapes staff who work it as much as it shapes the youth who attend.

“I finally was able to realize what being Lutheran and being Church meant, and it was something truly special.”

This summer I had the privilege of attending the 2018 ELCA Youth Gathering in Houston, Texas. While I thought I was ready to welcome the Youth to our space Thursday morning, I soon realized that nothing could have prepared me for welcoming 30,000 youth! The experience was truly something indescribable, never have I ever worked so hard, stood on my feet so long and felt like I was apart of something so meaningful.

Nervous at first about how the field experience would go—especially the section my fellow interns and I put together—I easily became more comfortable in the space, allowing for me to focus on what was truly important about what was going on around me. What was so impactful and enlightening about this experience had nothing to do with how perfectly I worded each sentence, or how quickly we got the crops from the finish line back to the beginning of the track, it was the small talk, and the connections being made throughout and seeing/ recognizing that over 30,000+ Lutherans were coming together from all over the U.S to celebrate God and grow in faith.

Every morning I was greeted by Petra R. and Hannah N. we would walk down to breakfast debrief for the day then head to the event. Entering this trip with them I never expected our relationships to grow how they did but I guess when you spend nearly 24 hours a day with someone that naturally happens. We all became one another’s support and when I, being the grandma intern got too tired they helped push me out of my comfort zone by encouraging me to attend a mass gathering on Saturday, which I greatly thank them for. Not being a huge fan of speakers and talks I was initially turned off by the idea, but once I was there I realized it was so much more than that, it didn’t matter exactly what was being said on stage, it was the feeling of being in a room with 30,000+ people who all believe in the same thing as you. The theme for Saturday was Hope and I could feel and see hope all around me as I sat amongst the future generations of our country. I finally was able to realize what being Lutheran and being Church meant, and it was something truly special.

I am beyond grateful that I was able to attend the Youth Gathering both because it allowed me share with youth and others ELCA World Hunger’s mission and field experience, as well as it showed me hope for the future and presented a feeling of belonging I had never felt before. I can confidently say that this experience was like no other and will stick with me for a lifetime.

-Jasmine Bolden

“I saw young people empowered to be the leaders that this church needs…”

When I was selected to be one of ELCA World Hunger’s interns, I had no idea what I was getting into. However, I did know that I would have the opportunity to attend the 2018 ELCA Youth Gathering, so I was super excited for what the summer would hold. This trip held an important significance for me, as I was born and raised in Houston, Texas. Welcoming 31,000 youth and their leaders to my hometown and educating them about the impact of ELCA World Hunger and the Global Farm Challenge was such a cool experience, even amidst the stifling heat of Houston (which you can never get used to).

The theme of the 2018 ELCA Youth Gathering was “This Changes Everything,” and from the moment I first arrived in the Interactive Learning space in Houston, I found that to be true. I met people from all over the United States and the Caribbean, and I like to think I showed them a thing or two about the challenges farmers face around the world.  I even had the privilege of guiding Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton through a section of the “Field Experience”—she could carry a 41.5-pound jerry can of water better than some of the youth!

In the Mass Gatherings, thousands of youth around me were enlivened by the speakers and the messages of hope and grace they brought to my generation. The speakers reflected the theme verse of the event in Ephesians: “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8 NRSV). As you know, the youth of this vibrant church are a gift from God, and they were lifted up to be an important part of their churches not only in the future but now. Throughout the Youth Gathering, I saw young people empowered to be the leaders that this church needs, and I am so excited that ELCA World Hunger could be a part of this important faith formation event.

In the last Mass Gathering, the normally dark NRG Stadium was filled with light. The assignment for all the youth was to let someone important to them know that they were loved by sending them a text message with the note “May God hold you in the grip of grace.” After they sent the message, they were to turn their phone flashlights on. Quickly, the entire stadium became as bright as the noonday as thousands of people throughout the United States and the world were told that they were loved by the next generation of Lutheran leaders. After attending this gathering, I am filled with hope for what the church will look like moving forward.

-Hannah Norem

“…this is what it takes to create a just world where all are fed.”

Beautiful chaos. Everything God-blessed, fast-paced, brightly colored and abundantly emotional— a light sprinkling of buzzwords that only begins to scratch the surface of the ELCA National Youth Gathering. Every three years, an inconceivable amount of sweat, tears, and hope breathes life to this event. Though I believe few people are blessed with having a grip on this whirlwind of an experience due to its sheer magnitude, I thought I had a pretty good idea after attending two. I easily recall the countless post-church potluck lunches, car washes, and wreath sales that brought us ever-closer to our financial goal of affording the Gathering. What I hadn’t realized was the equal anticipation felt by the staff, volunteers, and partners planning the event. Excitement, nervousness, expectation, and anticipation hummed around the office long before our arrival, for everything ELCA World Hunger’s part in the event would be. Everything I got to hear, see, and have a hand in bringing to fruition, though, was just a tiny part of the entire event. The massive floorspace we would curate was but a planet in the entire solar system of NRG Center activities, and a tiny-but-mighty speck in the galaxy of events participants would encounter in the week.

Rather than humbling, this realization was enlivening. It brought urgency to pouring ourselves into ELCA World Hunger’s area, ensuring it precisely and accurately reflected all the learning points we prayed groups would grasp. Despite my hoarse throat and empty stomach, I was committed to making my piece of ELCA World Hunger’s “Field Experience” meaningful, fun, and enriching for each group. This is the first and only time these folks that stood before me got to see the space. This was the time they had to learn about what I staunchly believe is one of the best examples of God’s work in this church and the world.

What I pray they carry home is the sentiment of injustice behind the stories they heard, and allow it to fuel action. The participants in the track each followed stories of farmers facing hunger, and in the track, they took on the voices of the farmers – and added their own excitement or frustrations to the mix. “My son is sick!” one girl screamed. Another, “I get to ride a bike!” Or, most often heard, “Aw man, I have to carry my crops?!” These were only a few of the reactions after reading how the “drought” affected each group’s “crops.” The track was a great opportunity for the youth at the Gathering to hear about experiences of others around the world – experiences that may differ from their own – and to be inspired to act.

Just how different would the world look if we each took the time to learn about other’s experiences in the world, what this means for everyone as a global community, where our Church stands in it all, and how God is calling us to respond to injustice and need? Asking these questions and creating avenues for people to explore them—this is what it takes to create a “just world where all are fed.”

-Petra Rickertsen

World Food Day 2017 – Change the Future of Migration



In its most recent report on food insecurity and nutrition around the world, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) highlighted a troubling fact: after a decade of decline, the rate of hunger in the world increased in 2016. Today, the FAO estimates that there are 815 million people in the world who do not have access to the nutrition they need for healthy lives. That amounts to about 11 percent of the world’s population. It is still lower than it was in 2000, when 900 million people faced hunger, but some experts worry that we may be seeing a trend toward increased hunger after a prolonged decline.

There are many factors driving this increase in hunger, but a few stand out. First, more countries are experiencing violent conflict and fragility, which increases their vulnerability to hunger. Conflicts in South Sudan and Syria, for instance, have driven many people from their homes in search of safety elsewhere. In fact, the FAO estimates that 489 million of the 815 million undernourished people in the world live in countries facing conflict, violence and fragility.

This is related to the second driver of increased hunger—climate change. As droughts worsen and access to food and water gets harder, the risk of conflict increases. This, in turn, leaves communities vulnerable to food crises. Even without conflict, though, the effects of climate change can be dire for communities dependent on agriculture for their lives and livelihoods. As the FAO points out,

Three-quarters of the extreme poor base their livelihoods on agriculture or other rural activities. Creating conditions that allow rural people, especially youth, to stay at home when they feel it is safe to do so, and to have more resilient livelihoods, is a crucial component of any plan to tackle the migration challenge.

Working with rural communities to build resilience through sufficient, sustainable agricultural practices is key in reducing hunger around the world. To bring attention to this, the theme for World Food Day 2017 is:

Change the future of migration. Invest in food security and rural development

You can join people around the world in marking this special occasion. Below are some ideas to get you started.

Accompanying rural communities is a key part of the ministry of ELCA World Hunger. From helping farmers use drought-resistant crops or improved irrigation, to providing access to seeds, tools, and livestock to increase the profitability of farms, our companions and partners are making strides toward ending hunger for good.

ELCA World Hunger’s Lifelines magazine and reproducible stories are great ways to learn about and share the projects supported by your gifts. Reproducible stories provide full-color and B&W bulletin inserts you can use to share stories with your congregation or group. In the latest edition, learn how Zulema Lopez and her neighbors in San Luis, Nicaragua, are leading the way in increasing access to safe water and teaching others sustainable farming practices. Download the stories here:

To dive deeper into the problem of world hunger, you can read the FAO’s The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2017 here:

The FAO also has lots of resources on its World Food Day page, including videos, stories from rural communities around the world and an activity book for teachers or parents to use with children. Access all of this at the FAO site:

You can also check out these resources from the ELCA:

  • Hunger and Climate Change Connections Toolkit

ELCA World Hunger’s toolkits are easy-to-use, adaptable for a variety of settings and suitable for intergenerational audiences.  The activities can take as little as 15 minutes, or as much as one hour, depending on your needs.  Learn about climate-related disasters, the effects of climate change on vulnerable populations and actions your congregation can take.  Download this toolkit at

  • Hunger and Climate Change: Agriculture and Food Security in a Changing Climate

From biofuels to gender justice, from political stability to farming in the United States, this fact sheet from the ELCA highlights the wide-ranging effects of climate change.  With ideas for what your congregation can do to support farmers and others impacted by climate change, this fact sheet is perfect for Lutherans concerned about agriculture and hunger.  Download it at

  • Caring for Creation: Vision, Hope and Justice

The ELCA’s social statement on care for creation, adopted in 1993, remains an important reflection on our role as stewards in God’s world.  Read it here:



Ballroom dance lessons raises money for ELCA World Hunger Appeal

How fun! Paul E-S found this video on youtube. Check it out!

“About the video” written by the producer :
Pastor Erwin Roux (aka ‘PR’) is the Pastor at the Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church in Turbotville Pa. He and his wife Beth teach ballroom dancing lessons on selected Friday evenings. These classes were originally started at the Hidlay Parish Lutheran Church in Bloomsburg about 10 years ago. In 2005 when PR relocated to the Church in Turbotville, the classes were continued at the new location.

[===]All proceeds from these dance classes are donated to the Lutheran {ELCA] World Hunger Appeal. So far about $30,000 has been raised and donated since the dance program was started. The Pastor generously pays the operating expenses (printing, postage, and domain registration) out of his own pocket.

[====]RELATED LINKS: – The Church’s ballroom dance lessons program – Lutheran World Hunger Appeal – Main website for Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church in Turbotville, Pa.

[=====]This iMovie video was assembled 2/14/08 by, aka .

Hunger resources to feed the soul during Lent

Hi, folks! My first post on “Hunger Rumblings” is very practical in nature, as it’s time to order resources for Lent, as Ash Wednesday is February 6. Help your congregation, Sunday School class, circle, committee or other group “take on” for Lent…a journey to feed the soul to gain courage and commitment to feed the hungry. Blessings on your heads! Sue-s

1. ELCA World Hunger and Disaster Appeal’s “God’s Math” 40-day plus calendar and coin box.
40-day calendar: Free. ISBN 978-6-0002-2015-0; 1 pkg=25 calendars.
Coin box: Free. ISBN 978-6-0002-2004-2; 1 pkg=25 boxes.
Request these and other ELCA World Hunger materials by calling 800-638-3522 or by visiting the ELCA Resource catalog online.

2. The ELCA World Hunger Lenten Fellowship Leader’s Guide, pp. 7–11 of the Advent 2007–Easter 2008 edition of ELCA World Hunger Congregation Connections. Request a free copy of Congregation Connections (800-638-3522) or by visiting the ELCA Resource Catalog online store.

3. Order Eco-palms by February 20 for Palm/Passion Sunday.
Visit to order.

4. Sign up and receive daily environmental Lenten devotions online.
Subscribe to the ELCA’s daily 2008 environmental Lentenreflections, “Living Earth: A 40-Day Reflection on OurRelationship With God’s Creation” at
This is a limited subscription; the first e-mail will arrive onAsh Wednesday and the last e-mail will arrive Easter Sunday.