World Hunger Committee
Dr. Robert Brent and S. Dcn. Karen Nurmi, co-chairs
Hunger, more formally called “food insecurity,” is defined as lacking physical, economic, or social access, either chronically or episodically, to sufficient, safe, and nutritious food for an active and healthy lifestyle. Hunger is a complex issue, with several root causes: poverty, job instability, unstable markets, poor infrastructure, localized food shortages, war and conflict, the effects of climate change, gender inequality, discrimination, forced migration, and more. While providing food relief is necessary in addressing hunger, the other root causes must also be addressed if the global community is to continue the progress of several decades in reducing hunger, even while the world population has increased.
In 2019, the Hunger Committee focused on the connection between climate change and hunger. The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) annually produces a global food security report. The 2018 report stated that in the past several years there has been a gradual increase in world hunger, after decades of decline. A key driver in this rising trend is the effect of climate change, which has caused increased frequency and intensity of extreme weather events, land degradation and desertification, drought, and rising sea levels. These factors threaten to undo the progress made in reducing hunger from 1 in 6 people in the 1990s, to 1 in 9 by 2015. In keeping with the 2019 Synod Assembly theme, Caring for Creation, the Hunger Committee offered a workshop on the impact of climate change on hunger, which was well-attended. As a follow-up, we have worked with the MNYS Environmental Stewardship Committee to present a resolution on hunger and climate change at the 2020 Assembly.
A major responsibility of the committee is to serve as a review team for applications from groups within MNYS territory for ELCA World Hunger Domestic Hunger Grants. Our task was to review the application, have a ministry conversation with each applicant, and then report on those conversations to the award table in Chicago, which made the award decisions. Over 400 applications were received across the ELCA, with 12 from the MNYS; and 44 grants were awarded. Two went to ministries in MNYS—Seafarers International House for its work with asylees, and to Trinity Place Shelter. The review team found it deeply gratifying to meet with people who are so deeply committed to helping their neighbors by reducing local hunger.
We Are Church Together
Like ELCA World Hunger, the MNYS Hunger Committee is committed to working for a just world in which all are fed. We firmly believe that everyone has a place at the table; people challenged by hunger are part of our community, and we want to create a community in which all are fed and nurtured.
Striving to build community in which all are fed, whether that community is our neighborhood or the global community, requires commitment from all of us. With so many factors affecting hunger, we need to be Church Together, bringing our gifts and passions for different ministries to accompany our sisters and brothers challenged by hunger. This requires people who run food pantries and meal programs, address racism, assist immigrants, support LGBTQIA+, speak with a prophetic voice about the impact of climate change, advocate with elected leaders for policies that enable people to live with dignity and in security. We are church together, and together we can do more.
- Volunteer or designate someone in your congregation/conference to serve as a liaison between the Hunger Committee and your congregation/conference. No meetings are required; just a passion to end hunger and willingness to share information from the committee with your congregation/conference. Email the committee at [email protected] with the hunger liaison’s name and contact information.
- Learn about and promote giving to ELCA World Hunger. Information can be found at www.elca.org/hunger. Email the Hunger Committee with questions at [email protected].
- Engage in anti-hunger advocacy through ELCA Advocacy at www.elca.org/advocacy, or Bread for the World, which holds an annual Offering of Letters to Congress about a domestic or global hunger issue. See www.bread.org for information.
- Get involved with your local food pantry or meal program.
- Join the Hunger Committee!! There is always room at this table!! Contact us for more information at [email protected].