“It is a well-known fact that current levels of production are sufficient,” declared Pope Francis, “yet millions of people are still suffering and dying of starvation. This is truly scandalous.”
Scandalous. What better word to sum up the world’s ongoing hunger crisis? It evokes public outrage at a moral failing. It calls for disclosure and correction.
We live in a world in which some of us freely enjoy our right to food while others are imprisoned by hunger. Supermarkets in some neighborhoods of the world are filled with food and well-fed shoppers. Meanwhile, according to the United Nations, every three-and-a-half seconds an individual elsewhere dies of starvation. Agricultural improvements over the past century have increased crop yields such that farmers worldwide produce enough to provide everyone with at least 2,720 calories per day. Yet 870 million people do not have enough to eat. One-third of all food is delivered to garbage dumps or is otherwise wasted. Meanwhile, millions of bowls sit empty.
As human beings, we should find this unacceptable. As Christians, we should agree with Pope Francis that this is scandalous.
In my everyday life, I rarely think about not having food. I do think about how much I’m going to eat, maybe even worrying that I might eat too much. I create a variety of flavorful meals, ruminating over choices of ingredients close at hand. I make plans about where and when I will eat, and with whom—without concern about whether or not food will be available. But I never wonder whether I will have food for the day. I am one of the fortunate.
In the Gospels, Jesus reminds us to share our bounty, reminding us that by so doing we recognize the divine light in each other. “I was hungry and you gave me food,” Jesus says, “I was thirsty and you gave me drink” (Matthew 25:35).
But how can we reach everyone who hungers and thirsts? We can feed those in our neighborhoods and our towns through direct giving and volunteering. That is one level of discipleship. But the scandal of hunger is global and requires an international response—especially now, during tough economic times. The current global financial situation cannot “continue to be used as an alibi,” said Pope Francis during the FAO conference. “The crisis will not be completely over until situations and living conditions are examined in terms of the human person and human dignity.”
So how will we rectify this scandal of hunger? Fortunately, you are in a prime position to help by speaking for human dignity and against short-sighted legislation that would cut funds for hungry people. The U.S. government has been a leader against hunger—from delivering humanitarian aid to war-torn or famine-ridden countries to providing poverty-focused development assistance to farming communities. With the possibility of ending hunger in sight, our government needs to maintain and expand anti-hunger efforts.
You can follow legislation in Congress and urge your senators and representative to vote in favor of policies that respect the right of every human being to have access to food. And you can petition the president to work with Congress on a plan to end hunger. Our Offering of Letters campaign this year focuses on ending global hunger by reforming our current food aid programs. We have a website with all the tools and resources you need to help make hunger history.
We are called to end hunger—and now, for the first time in history, we have the means to do it. We have enough food; we simply lack the political will. You can provide that.
It is time to end this scandal.
Bread for the World is a collective Christian voice urging our nation’s decision makers to end hunger at home and abroad. By changing policies, programs, and conditions that allow hunger and poverty to persist, we provide help and opportunity far beyond the communities where we live. Learn about specific policies and programs that save lives—and find out how you can join the movement to end hunger: www.bread.org.
2014 © Dulce Gamboa. All Rights Reserved.