Skip to content
ELCA Blogs

ELCA World Hunger

Train Reading

Today on the train I read several articles that relate to my work here at World Hunger. I suppose this is not surprising given the current economic situation.

Paul Krugman commented on the Federal Reserve open market committee’s prediction that “unemployment would remain substantially above its longer-run sustainable rate at the end of 2011, even absent further economic shocks” and that “more than five to six years would be needed for the economy to converge to a longer-run path characterized by sustainable rates of output growth and unemployment and by an appropriate rate of inflation.” It looks like the Church will have several opportunities to offer food and drink “to the least of these” for quite some time.

David Brooks explained why those who are in part responsible for this mess need to nonetheless receive governement aid. Apparently that old biblical adage that it rains on both the just and the unjust still holds true.

Perhaps the most compelling article to me described the increased use of food pantries and how the “next layer of people” (secretaries, nurse’s aids, child care workers, and so on) have begun to seek help. What I was most struck by (and I’m still formulating my thoughts on it) is the shame that many of these people felt for seeking help in a food pantry. I think it reveals implicit assumptions about people who need this kind of aid and the stigma that being needy carries.
I found myself thinking about the assumptions that I bring to the table when I think about those who are most vulnerable. How would I feel about myself if I found myself in their shoes? What misguided assumptions do I need to actively address?

David Creech

Will the Church Respond?

Today we were greeted with another round of bad economic news–533,000 jobs lost in November, the largest drop since December 1974. This frightening number does not take into account two important groups: 1) The so-called “discouraged workers” (what a wretched euphemism) who have lost hope and are no longer searching for work–637,000 added in November and 2) Those who could only find part time work–621,ooo in November. That’s nearly 1.8 million people in November alone who are now in the ranks of those who do not have a reliable/sufficient source of income.

An important recent report correlates unemployment rates to poverty. While unemployment does not necessarily lead one into poverty, the two are closely related. If employment peaks next December at 9%, as is predicted, we can explect 10 million more people to fall below the poverty line. If this projection is correct, in December of 2009, nearly 50 million people in the US will be living below the poverty line.

The government will do what it can, but it is clear that government intervention will not be enough. For example, the number of food stamps distributed is far below the number of people living below the poverty line (see page 9, Figure 3 of the report noted above). As the people of God, how will we respond to this need? At a time when we are dealing with our own sense of insecurity, will we find the courage to take risks for the most vulnerable people in our communities? In the coming years we will have the opportunity to live out Matthew 25, will we answer the call?

-David Creech