Hunger Doesn’t Take a Holiday

By Jean Blish Siers *

World Food DayWalking into my local Costco a couple weeks ago, I realized Christmas had arrived, with trees, cards, gift-wrap and bows! Whole aisles of toys replaced the gardening supplies and back-to-school lunchboxes and backpacks. Which would be fine, I guess, if it hadn’t been September. And 95 degrees outside. And if we weren’t skipping Halloween and Thanksgiving in our rush to get to Christmas.  For me, it was too much way too soon.

Aside from the big holidays, other events are lost in our rush to over-consume. Did you know World Food Day is this Wednesday, October 16?. World Food Day sounds like a lot of fun, when we gather to eat pirogi and enchiladas and pupusas and curries and pastas and sushi and all those other tasty treats. Have I hooked you? Well, it’s not quite a celebration of world foods. Instead, United Nation’s World Food day is “a day of action dedicated to tackling global hunger.”

According to the UN, 820 million people worldwide suffer from hunger. And an additional 1.3 million are overweight or obese, typically because of poor food options. A sobering thought.

In the United States, 37.2 million people live in food insecure households. More than six million of those people are children. In North Carolina, where I live, about 630,000 of our neighbors go to bed hungry each night. We have the eighth-highest rate of food insecurity in the nation.

Sometimes people ask me, “How can so many people be hungry if we also have an obesity epidemic?” Then we have a discussion about nutritious foods versus foods that are merely calorie-dense, those foods that fill a stomach but are full of fat and sugars and refined carbohydrates causing obesity. We talk about how expensive good, fresh fruits and vegetables are compared with boxed macaroni and cheese, or sodium-laden canned soups and stews.

In the US, it’s easy to feel like we live in a food carnival, where some kind of food is available everywhere we go. Fill up the car? Buy a hotdog. Stop at the CVS for a prescription? Grab a bag of chips. Pop into Lowe’s for paint and come out drinking an energy drink and some Cheez-Its.

But for much of the world, food — all food — is scarce. About 60% of us subsist on simple meals: beans or vegetables and rice. Vegetable curries. Soups.

How do we, in our food carnival, respond to this? One way is to host a “simple supper” on Wednesday. Or aim for October 24, which is National Food Day. Then take the money you would have spent on a more elaborate dinner and donate it to a worthy cause working to combat hunger. It can be Society of St. Andrew (for every dollar, we are able to get 30 servings of produce to neighbors in our community!) or your local food pantry or soup kitchen.

Invite you friends and neighbors. Hold the “simple supper” at your church and talk about your congregation’s response to hunger in your community. If it’s too late to pull that together, do it any other time. Do it once a week! Because hunger doesn’t take a holiday. Our neighbors, both here and around the world, are hungry. Every single day.

* Jean Blish Siers is SoSA’s Western NC, Charlotte Area, and South Carolina Program Coordinator

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VOLUNTEER WAIVER

In the event I, or a registered family member, suffers any illness or accident requiring emergency hospitalization, medication, or other medical assistance while participating in a gleaning event, permission is given for any medical treatment which is deemed necessary and reasonable under the circumstances. I fully understand and comprehend that reasonable care will be exercised by the adult staff for this gleaning event to protect the safety of those involved. I understand that the field supervisor’s instructions must be followed at all times, and that I am responsible for any damages caused to fields, farms, or equipment by me/my family members not following these instructions.

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How the Story of the 12 Baskets is Connected to SoSA’s Name

Matthew 14:16-21

But Jesus said to them, “They do not need to go away; you give them something to eat!” They said to Him, “We have here only five loaves and two fish.” And He said, “Bring them here to Me.” Ordering the people to sit down on the grass, He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up toward heaven, He blessed the food, and breaking the loaves He gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds, and they all ate and were satisfied. They picked up what was left over of the broken pieces, twelve full baskets. There were about five thousand men who ate, besides women and children.

2 Kings 4:42-44

[…]the man of God […] said, “Give them to the people that they may eat.” His attendant said, “What, will I set this before a hundred men?” But he said, “Give them to the people that they may eat, for thus says the Lord, ‘They shall eat and have some left over.’” So he set it before them, and they ate and had some left over, according to the word of the Lord.