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ELCA World Hunger

New Data Show Trends, Challenge Old Wisdom

Knowing the numbers for hunger and poverty can go a long way to helping us talk about the issues accurately and craft effective, forward-looking responses. For those who share with their congregation information about hunger and poverty, these numbers can also be helpful in putting together presentations or workshops.

There are several sources for data that are particularly reliable and useful[1]:

  • The World Bank’s poverty report;
  • The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations’ (FAO) annual “State of Food Security” report;
  • The US Census Bureau’s annual reports on poverty and income; and
  • The US Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) annual “Food Security in the US” report.

We are still waiting for the release of the USDA’s report, hopefully within the next week, but already, the data are showing some troubling trends and some surprising shifts in understanding hunger and poverty.

Rather than litter this post with a ton of footnotes, the sources are summarized below.

Information and infographics about global hunger and food security come from:
FAO, IFAD, UNICEF, WFP and WHO. 2023. The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2023.
Urbanization, agrifood systems transformation and healthy diets across the rural–urban continuum. Rome, FAO.
Information and infographics about incomes in the United States come from:
Gloria Guzman and Melissa Kollar, U.S. Census Bureau, Current Population Reports, P60-279, Income in the United States: 2022, U.S. Government Publishing Office, Washington, DC, September 2023.
Information and infographics about poverty in the United States come from:
Emily A. Shrider and John Creamer, U.S. Census Bureau, Current Population Reports, P60-280, Poverty in the United States: 2022, U.S. Government Publishing Office, Washington, DC, September 2023.


Global Hunger

The first troubling trend in the data is that the spike in hunger we have seen in recent years has not eased. Hunger is still “far above pre-pandemic levels” (FAO, 2023, viii). In 2022, between 690 and 783 million people were hungry. If we look at the middle of this range – 735 million – we find about 122 million more people hungry in 2022 than in 2019 (613 million.) The prevalence of undernourishment, which is the measure the FAO uses to determine the rate of hunger, has increased from 7.9% in 2019 to 9.2% in 2022 – nearly 1 in 11 people around the world.

Prevalence and number of undernourished people globally, 2023 (FAO)

Fortunately, that’s come down a bit from 2021. There were about 3.8 million fewer people facing hunger in 2022 compared to 2021, but the number remains remarkably high. The rate of hunger in 2022 was a slight decrease from 9.3% in 2021, but still the highest rate since 2005. In some areas, especially Africa, Western Asia and the Caribbean, hunger continues to rise, in part because of reliance on more expensive exports.

We see even more concerning news if we turn to another measure the FAO reports, namely food security. While the prevalence of undernourishment measures long-term, chronic signs of hunger, the FAO also reports on food security, which is a shorter-term measure of people’s access to safe, nutritious and sufficient food year-round.[2] In 2022, 2.4 billion people were food-insecure, an increase of 391 million people since 2019, relatively unchanged from 2021. This means nearly 30% of people around the world cannot reliably access the food they need.

What is keeping hunger and food insecurity so high?

For starters, one critical factor is the war in Ukraine. The FAO estimates that, without the war, 23 million people would not have faced hunger in 2022. Another factor is rising costs. Food is more expensive, fuel is more expensive and incomes haven’t risen to match the jump in prices. Many countries at risk of hunger are dependent on exports. The “world food import bill,” which measures how much is spent globally on the import of food and food products, reached nearly US$2 trillion in 2022, the highest on record and an increase of 10% from 2021. This puts enormous pressures on importing countries and translates into much steeper prices for consumers. The cost for imports of agricultural inputs, such as fertilizer (a huge export of Ukraine, Russia and Belarus), was even more staggering – $424 billion in 2022, an increase of 48% from 2021. Put together, it’s more expensive to bring food in and significantly more expensive to produce food in-country.

One of the trends impacting hunger and the cost of food is urbanization. More and more people globally are moving into large cities or closer to cities. By 2050, nearly 7 in 10 people worldwide are expected to live in cities. The result of this shift, according to the FAO, is that the old framework of a rural-urban divide simply doesn’t match the world as it is. In general, as people move toward cities, their economic prospects grow, and their risk of hunger and poverty decreases (slightly.) The problem we are seeing now, though, is rapid urbanization without economic growth. While we used to think of hunger as primarily a rural issue globally, the data point us toward understanding the need to attend to a continuum of rural-to-urban, including people who live in the in-between spaces between cities and rural areas.

As people move into cities, their diets change, and this presents a challenge to traditional thinking about hunger. For years, the truism has been that the world produces enough food to meet everyone’s needs. That might not be the case going forward. Between diets changing and more people moving away from food production in rural areas, the FAO finds that “the availability of vegetables and fruits, in particular, is insufficient to meet the daily dietary requirements in almost every region of the world” (FAO, 2023, xxii; 62). The reality seems to be that the world doesn’t produce enough food for everyone in every region to enjoy a healthy diet. Hunger isn’t just a problem of access but of production that meets changing needs – and changing understandings of nutrition and health.

The availability of food groups to meet a healthy diet (FAO)


Another surprising finding is that, in most of the countries the FAO analyzed, the majority of food consumed in rural households is purchased, not produced. This, too, challenges the traditional picture of rural subsistence farmers relying solely on food they grow or produce and makes the relationship between access and production more complex. The reality is that, in rural areas, the share of food that is produced by a household represents only about 33-37% of the food they consume, according to the FAO. The rest is purchased from grocery stores, street vendors or other suppliers.

There are a couple of consequences here. First, the growth in food purchases also means, in many cases, increased consumption of highly-processed foods, which can have lower nutritional value. This may mean that improving food security and nutrition will require new regulations to incentivize healthy eating and prevent exposure to unsafe foods, especially convenience foods purchased from street vendors. Second, focusing on increasing yields and production among rural farmers is important but may need to be combined with other efforts. It may also be important to focus on ways to generate income and to connect people to markets, particularly through improved infrastructure, such as navigable roads. That said, there still needs to be a focus on increasing farming production, especially of fruits and vegetables but also of staple grains, to meet the growing needs of an urbanizing population and to build resilience to shocks to export markets, as we’re seeing with the war in Ukraine.

The long-and-short of it is that the data suggest that the world may face a problem of not producing enough food to meet the changing diets of the world, and rural subsistence, as we tend to envision it, doesn’t completely reflect people’s actual dietary lives. These are huge shifts in our understanding.

Poverty and Income in the United States

As mentioned above, we are still waiting for new data on food security, but we do have information on income and poverty, courtesy of the US Census Bureau.

In 2022, the official poverty rate in the US was 11.5%, representing about 37.9 million people living in poverty. The good news is this wasn’t significantly different from 2021; the bad news is that this rate is far too high and still slightly higher than in 2019, before the pandemic.

Number of people in poverty and poverty rate over time in the US (US Census Bureau)


One thing to note in the data is geographic differences in poverty. While people living in every type of setting – city, suburb, rural– face vulnerability to poverty, the highest rate of poverty in the US is found “outside metropolitan statistical areas” or, in other words, rural areas. Fifteen percent of people living in rural areas in 2022 experienced poverty, compared to 11.0% living in urban centers (“metropolitan statistical areas.”) In principal cities themselves, poverty remained above 14% for 2022. So, the picture of poverty in the US as being primarily urban is not quite borne out by research; rural areas actually experience poverty at a slightly higher rate.

In addition to the official poverty measure, the US Census Bureau also calculates a Supplemental Poverty Measure (SPM.) You can read more about the differences here, but one of the interesting things the SPM lets us see is how certain safety net programs and benefits help alleviate poverty. It also allows us to estimate how much certain costs contribute to poverty. Moreover, it determines the threshold of income that is “in poverty” a bit differently.

One important caveat before getting into the numbers: the numbers below are from the Supplemental Poverty Measure, not the official poverty measure. While they are illuminating and help us to analyze poverty more deeply, they should not be used as a replacement for the official poverty measure.

Here is where the news gets a bit frustrating, to be honest. We knew when the Child Tax Credit was expanded that we would see a rapid reduction in child poverty, and we did. Of course, that expansion and COVID-19 stipends expired in 2022, so the rate of child poverty in the US went up, as we knew it would. In fact, between 2021 and 2022, according to the SPM, child poverty more than doubled, from 5.4% in 2021 to 12.4% in 2022. At the same time, the official poverty rate for children stayed relatively stable, showing the deep impact the Child Tax Credit expansion had on child poverty. Perhaps even more worrisome is that the share of children in households with income of less than half of the poverty line also doubled, showing an increase of more than 100% for children living in what is considered deep poverty. Increases in deep poverty were true across the board for all age groups. The share of the population with resources below 50 percent of the SPM poverty threshold increased for every age group in the US. What this may point to is the way in which tax credits and stimulus payments had had a particularly significant impact on people living in deep poverty. What it also suggests is that ending poverty for households, even households in deep poverty, is not impossible; progress just takes bold but doable policy choices.

Child poverty – supplemental poverty measure vs. official poverty measure, US (US Census Bureau)


From the SPM, we can also get an idea of how effective certain public programs were in keeping people out of poverty in 2022. As the graph below indicates, for example, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP; formerly food stamps) and the National School Lunch Program lifted 5.1 million people out of poverty, while out-of-pocket medical expenses moved 7.1 million people into poverty, which means that, after medical expenses are subtracted from their resources, more than 7 million people had household resources below the poverty line.

Supplemental poverty measure – the impact of various sources of income or costs (US Census Bureau)


In terms of income, real median household income in the US decreased 2.3% between 2021 and 2022, from an estimated $76,330 per household to $74,580. More people were working full-time, year-round, but real median earnings of workers (including both part-time and full-time) decreased 2.2%. For just full-time, year-round workers, the drop in earnings was 1.3% from 2021 to 2022. So, the next time someone complains about how workers “these days” earn so much, you can gently and gracefully remind them that earnings are lower now than they were last year when accounting for inflation– at the same time (and partially because) goods cost so much more.


Credit: US Census Bureau, 2023


Moreover, the next time someone says, “People just don’t want to work anymore,” it might be helpful to point out that the number of full-time, year-round workers increased 3.4% between 2021 and 2022, compared to an overall increase in workers of 1.7%, which, according to the US Census Bureau, suggests that what we are actually seeing is a shift from part-time work to full-time, year-round work. The percentage of people 16 years and older who were in the labor force in 2022 was 63.5% – not much different from the 63.6% 5-year average from 2017-2021.

In terms of racial disparities in real median income, White and non-Hispanic White households experienced a decrease of 3.5% and 3.6%, respectively, while the change in income for other racial groups was not statistically different from 2021. This change may be because of long-term income disparities. White and non-Hispanic White workers tend to be paid disproportionately higher incomes than other racial groups, sometimes as much as 25-100% higher, and still, despite the modest decrease, get paid real median incomes of $108,700 per year per household, the highest among racial groups. Further analysis shows that the losses in real median income nationwide largely occurred in middle and high income brackets, so this makes some sense.

This drop in middle and high incomes means that income inequality was lower in 2022 than in 2021. In fact, the US Census Bureau reports that 2022 represented the first drop in the Gini coefficient – a common measure of income inequality – since 2007. There is some good news there, though, if we look at other measurements, such as the mean logarithmic deviation of income, which is a bit more sensitive to changes at the lower end of the income spectrum, we still see income inequality at the highest rate it has been since 1967, with the exception of 2021, of course.

What this means is that, yes, income inequality decreased because of drops in income at the middle- and high-income levels. But when the lowest 20% of income earners draw in only 3% of the total income of the country, and the highest 20% get more than 52% of the total income, can we really say that we are making headway on inequality? Probably not. There’s more work to be done.

Where to go from here?

“More work to be done” is a good way to sum up what we can learn from the data. Certainly, we are nowhere near the worst of projections from the early months of the pandemic. But we are also a far cry from the Sustainable Development Goal of ending hunger by 2050.

We know, though, that things do not have to be this way. We have come a long way from where we were as a country and a world in 1974, when the Lutheran hunger appeals that became ELCA World Hunger began. As we look ahead to the 50th anniversary of this ministry next year, we do so with hope and faith. Hunger and poverty are not givens. What the last few years’ worth of data demonstrate isn’t the intractability of hunger but the risk our world runs when we collectively ease up on progress toward ending hunger and poverty.

Working together, learning from one another, listening to each other, advocating together and creating spaces for communities to build trust and address the injustices that create vulnerability will all be important steps along the way.


[1] What makes data “reliable and useful”? One of the first things to consider is whether the sources of data describe their methods, including limitations of the data. This can help point to whether the data are reliable or not. Another factor to consider is consistency. The agencies named in the list use the same methods year after year, so data can be compared over time, and they report any changes to methods that might impact comparability.

[2] In the past few years, there has been more attention to “food crises” around the world and reports that use a measurement referred to as IPC/CH to determine risk of famine. The FAO has a great explanation of how food crisis measurements compare to undernourishment and food security measurements in the 2023 “State of Food Security” report. See Box 1, page 12 of the report.

Celebrating 2023 “Holy Cow Award” in Northwestern Minnesota

The article below was originally published on the “Our Synod Stories” webpage of the Northwestern Minnesota Synod of the ELCA. It is re-posted with permission from – and gratitude for – the synod and the author, Pastor Devlyn Brooks, a member of the synod’s storytelling team.

Since its charter as a Lutheran church in 1960, Calvary Lutheran Church in Perham, Minn., has always had a heart for supporting missions outside their church walls, says Associate Pastor Eric Clapp.

So, it wasn’t a surprise when the Northwestern Minnesota Synod bishop’s staff announced at this year’s synod assembly that Calvary had again won the synod’s cherished “Holy Cow Award” for a second consecutive year and a third time overall. But, according to Pastor Clapp, while the congregation’s reaction was that it was generally “cool” to win the award again, that is not the church’s motivation when it comes to its culture of giving.

“Calvary has always had a strong spirit for mission support to the synod; the congregation is proactive in giving,” Clapp said. “You give no matter what, even when things look bad. And when things are good, then even more.”

In its 11-year history in our synod, only four churches have claimed the award, with Calvary’s three wins second only to  Little Norway Lutheran Church’s (Fertile, Minn.) five titles. Calvary Lutheran Church in Little Sauk has won twice, and Immanuel Lutheran in Wadena once.

First dreamt up by a hunger justice committee in the Northeast Minnesota Synod nearly 20 years ago, the “Holy Cow Award” has since been adopted by the Northwestern Minnesota and South Dakota synods as well.

The beauty of the “Holy Cow Award,” Clapp said, is that any church in the synod has a chance to win because the award is based on a formula that includes a church’s giving to the ELCA World Hunger per member, in addition to its mission support directly to the synod in a given fiscal year. So, the award is annually within every church’s reach, big or small. Calvary Lutheran worships about 200-230 per week in the summer and 250-300 the rest of the year.

This past fiscal year, Calvary found itself with an operating overage, and its leaders asked the congregation where they would like to invest the funds. The decision was to split it equally into four mission areas, meaning that they donated $12,500 to ELCA World Hunger.

“We didn’t necessarily set out to win it; we just keep doing what we’re doing,” Clapp said. “The intent is to give and to share. This is who we are; this is what we’ve always done.”

Clapp said jokingly that there hasn’t been talk about a Calvary three-peat yet, but now given the idea, it just may provide some motivation for the church’s giving team!

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.