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ELCA World Hunger

A New Advocacy Resource for Young Adults


Advocacy is one of the most important actions we can take to end hunger and poverty. It’s also deeply embedded in many faith traditions, including Lutheranism. From biblical figures like Esther and Nehemiah to Martin Luther’s calls for civic justice, there is a long and rich history of advocacy within our shared traditions. Advocacy is not merely something the church does but a central part of who the church is. And when it comes to hunger and poverty, working toward just public policies is a critical step toward real, lasting change.

But what is advocacy, and how do we get started?

 “Advocacy 101 for Young Adults: When Faith Meets Policy” is a new guide prepared by Hunger Advocacy Fellows in tandem with ELCA Advocacy and ELCA World Hunger. The easy-to-use resource is divided into four sessions and is designed for use with young adult groups on college campuses, in congregations and in other settings. The guide includes insights from leaders, lessons from local, state, and federal advocacy, and activities to help participants learn more about what advocacy is and what it means for them and their communities.

Each session of the guide introduces one aspect of faith-based advocacy, and each features an audio story of a leader that takes participants deeper into the theme of the session. Jeanine Hatcher from Michigan, for example, tells her story of advocating for fair pricing and access to medication she and others need to manage lupus during the COVID-19 pandemic. In the third session, Roberta Oster of the Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy talks about the importance of working together toward common goals.

The sessions include interactive activities that invite participants to learn more about advocacy as a method and about the ways policies impact their own lives and communities, with tips on how to adapt the activities for virtual settings.

The four sessions in “Advocacy 101 for Young Adults” are:

The full guide is available for download from the resource pages of ELCA World Hunger and ELCA Advocacy. You can jump to audio files from within the guide, using hyperlinks or QR codes. The guide also contains printable transcripts of each audio segment.


Meeting the immediate needs of our neighbors is an important part of addressing hunger and poverty. But long-term change will require just, fair and inclusive public policies that protect the common good and create opportunities for the well-being of all. “Advocacy 101 for Young Adults” is a great place to start to learn how you can make a difference!

For more information about ELCA World Hunger resources, please contact Ryan Cumming, program director of hunger education, at

Interested in advocacy and the important policies that impact our neighbors? Sign up for e-news and action alerts from ELCA Advocacy at

Toilet Paper Tubes

They are cardboard, small and round. We all have them, often in multiple rooms of our home, and all too often…they stack up in our garbage bins. What are they? Toilet paper tubes! As silly as it may seem my pet peeve is having nowhere in the restroom to put a used up toilet paper roll’s tube (except the trash) when it’s ready to be switched out and prime for reusing or recycling. Last week I finally put an extra receptacle in my bathroom to collect these tubes in one place. Now they are prime for recycling! Today I also found some great ideas for how to reuse toilet paper tubes from the World Environmental Organization and The Green Parent’s websites.

Here are my favorites:

  • Use in place of a peat pot. Fill with potting soil, place in a plastic butter/ice cream tub, plant the seed and water. When the plant sprouts, plant the seedling (tube and all) in the ground. The tube rots away.
  • Stuff an extra set of stockings into a tube and keep in your desk drawer at work, your glove compartment, etc. in case of a run.
  • Stuff a few plastic bags into the tube and then place the tube in the glove compartment of your car. It will keep them tidy and on-hand for when you need them.
  • Use for storing long pieces of ribbon which have been saved from packages. This will keep the ribbon smooth.
  • Donate old toilet paper or paper towel tubes to your local school or library to use as craft projects.

So whether you reuse your toilet paper tubes for gardening or ribbons, or you recycle them straight away, thanks for keeping them out of the trash!

Review of Peter Singer, The Life You Can Save

singer-book-791556I just finished reading Peter Singer’s new book, The Life You Can Save. The book is engaging and accessible and argues persuasively not only why we should give but also how much is reasonable for us to give.

I particularly enjoyed Chapter 4, which explored six psychological factors in giving. The studies he cites there make intuitive sense–one is less likely to give outside of their own group (parochialism), if they are simply given statistics (by the way, have you perused our Good Gifts Catalog lately?), or if the responsibility is diffuse. Our sense of fairness (who is shouldering the aid load) and the fear that our efforts are futile (expressed recently in Dambisa Moyo’s book, Dead Aid) can also inhibit giving.
The study I found most fascinating was the effect money has on helping. Quoting Karl Marx, who described money as “the universal agent of separation,” Singer describes a study in which one group of subjects was primed in various ways to think about money (through word puzzles, visual prompts, and so on) then asked to perform various tasks. A second group did not have the money prompts. The “money group” took longer to ask for help, left a greater distance between chairs when asked to discuss things in a small group, and were more likely to choose solitary leisure activities. At the end of the experiment both groups were asked to donate some of the money they had been paid for their participation. The “money group” gave less. I’m not sure what to do with this, but it is intriguing.
I found other parts of the book worthwhile, particularly his discussion on what we are morally obligated to give (the sliding scale idea sounds more or less right to me; see the book’s accompanying website for a calculator: I also enjoyed chapters six and seven on how to evaluate the effectiveness of an aid organization (it’s difficult to do!). I found his argument against folks like William Easterly and the afroementioned Dambisa Moyo to be compelling as well. How can we say that infusion of aid won’t work when we’ve never really tried it?

On to a few of my problems. First, I think that Singer is far too materialistic in his understanding of “saving” a life (which, by the way, is a phrase I find quite problematic). I finished the book with the impression that, for Singer, saving a life only involves providing food and shelter. The emotional and spiritual health of a person is not considered. This was especially clear when Singer held up as models Paul Farmer and Zell Kravinsky who both strive not to love their own children more than any other child. The emotional health and well being of their children is somewhat immaterial–they have food and shelter so they are set. Singer really had no argument against this, other than it is difficult for typical human beings to live this way. I would argue that especially strong care and affection that one has for his or her own children is both natural and necessary.

All in all I enjoyed the book and encourage you to spend some time with it. For those of you in the Chicago area, a group will gather to discuss the book on June 11 at 7:30pm at United Lutheran Church in Oak Park (409 Greenfield Street). I invite you to join us for what promises to be a lively dialogue!

David Creech

Stacy Johnson on the Inspiration behind Taking Root

I became a mother for the first time in October, 1997. Even though I knew I would love my child, I was unprepared for the completeness and intensity of my love for my son. I was also unprepared for the fact that I began to see my child in the faces and lives of other children, children known to me and children not known to me. I became a better pastor and teacher when I became a mother. I recognized the triumphs and fears in the parents and children around me. They seemed very real and very familiar.

At this same time, it was also hard for me to see pictures of and read articles about children who were hurt or were starving. I knew it happened, of course, but I did not want to see evidence that children suffered so greatly. Those children were no longer abstract children to me. They were children who were someone’s greatest treasure.

My son is now eleven, and he has a brother and a sister. I now make myself read articles and books about hunger and poverty because I know that mothers whose children are hungry, love their children just as I love mine. I feel that I have to keep track of these women and their children in order to fulfill my call to preach and teach the Gospel. It is still hard. I cannot always look at the pictures, but I know that if their stories are not known and told, nothing will change. I work every day to hold on to my hope that hunger will end and that every mother’s treasured child will have enough.

The Rev. Stacy K. Johnson

Stacy Johnson, Ph.D., is an ELCA pastor and the author the new World Hunger curriculum, Taking Root: Hunger Causes, Hunger Hopes.

Stacy Johnson on Taking Root for Younger Children


I’ve been asked many questions about “Taking Root,” the ELCA Hunger curriculum. Perhaps the most common question is about using the materials with children younger than Grade 3. I think the materials do lend themselves to adaptation for younger learners. To use “Taking Root” with young children, this is what I recommend:

1) Focus on the children’s literature. Children are captivated by stories, especially good stories read well. Some of the discussion questions in the Grades 3 – 6 Leaders’ Guide will work for young children. Stay away from too many content questions, such as What was the man’s name? What did the child do? Instead, encourage children to think about the story with questions like, Why do you think the man did that? If you had been the child in the story, what would you have done?

2) Remember that young children are quite able. It is true that young children are not able to think abstractly about an abstract concept. They can, though, think about an abstract idea, like the justice of food distribution, if it is presented in a concrete way. Several activities in the curriculum including The Peanut Game, and Hunger Footprints would work for young children.

3) Emphasize activities and projects, including Neighbor Cookies, Junk Art Sculptures, Vases from the Recycling Bin, and Upside Down and Right Side Up Birdfeeders. These projects are very workable and enjoyable for young children.

4) Proclaim the focus Bible texts. Young children are just developing a concept of the Bible. It would be good for them to realize that the Bible has a concern for justice and also has much to say about hunger and poverty in our world.

Remember… curriculum is closer to a road map than a specific set of directions. Be creative and flexible!

Stacy Johnson, Ph.D., is an ELCA pastor and the author the new World Hunger curriculum, Taking Root: Hunger Causes, Hunger Hopes. She has agreed to post a couple of times on our blog to answer questions and provide suggestions.

Some Hunger Ed Resources

Check out these new resources:

ELCA World Hunger just released a hunger education resource for congregations. The Hunger Education tool kits will help you design, host, and lead a learning experience on hunger or hunger-related topics. It is adaptable to your audience, including participant activity level (low, medium, and high) and your time frame. The resource is practical, easy-to-use, and intergenerational. At present we have two kits: one introducing the work of ELCA World Hunger and another exploring the connections between climate change and hunger. Visit and see how you can use them!

We also just released a new hunger education curriculum, Taking Root. The curriculum is divided into five two to three hour sessions that can be easily broken up into shorter lessons. The curriculum is designed for three different age groups: grades 3–6, grades 7–9 (junior high), and grades 10–12 (senior high). Taking Root helps students explore biblical texts that envision a world without hunger, discover steps that can transform that image into reality, and challenges them to imagine a better world. For more information, visit the Taking Root Web site, For a free sample of the curriculum, visit the Augsburg Fortress website.

As I noted in a previous post, I am now on Twitter, with the user name hungerbites. I am posting two to three times a day with articles I’m reading or thoughts I’m having on hunger. I do not always have the time to pass along all that I get to read on the blog so Twitter opens up new avenues for information sharing. A little plug to join Twitter: not only can you follow me, you can follow other aid organizations (such as Oxfam) and concerned citizens (like Bono). It is a great tool.

In April, PBS will air a new documentary on the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize winner, Wangari Maathai. The documentary, entitled Taking Root (not to be confused with our new curriculum!), explores interconnections between climate change, human rights, and democracy. The show premiers on Tuesday, April 14. For more details about the show and its premier, visit

Finally, the American Bible Society has put out a great new resource entitled, Poverty and the Poor in the Bible, available free at The short booklet is a collection of biblical texts that deal with poverty. It also has three appendices–letters that have been written by various Christian groups (one of which that was signed by our own Bishop Hanson) that speak to the injustice and scandal of modern poverty. I am excited to use this resource. I think it highlights well the way in which our foundational document calls us to be on the side of those who are poor and to walk with them in their struggle for justice.

David Creech