|World has means to end hunger, experts say|
Mud cookies dry on a sidewalk in a neighborhood in Cite Soleil,
near Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Residents in the poor country eat the
cookies to stave off hunger.
A UMNS photo by John Gordon.
Part of a special report
By Kathy L. Gilbert*
June 24, 2009
A mother in Haiti walks away from her home, crying and praying for
God to send her something she can feed her five starving children.
The Rev. Lee Warren and Allen Renquist
of Stop Hunger Now check a food
shipment in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.
A UMNS photo by John Gordon.
“She prays for manna, send manna, and manna never comes,” said Dr.
Lisette DiManche, a doctor at the Clinic of Communite of Christian
Church in City-Soleil, Port-au-Prince, Haiti. In her work at the
clinic, next to a school, she sees the daily effects of malnutrition
DiManche sees many hungry, desperate mothers who are helpless to
feed their children. Such a mother “will go out everyday praying like
this and leaving her children alone.”
This clinic receives aid from Stop Hunger Now, an international
hunger organization. City-Soleil is a slum in Haiti, one of the poorest
countries in the Western Hemisphere, where children eat “mud cookies”
to stave off hunger pangs.
Meanwhile, advocates working to end hunger contend that the world
produces enough to feed everyone between 2,700 and 3,000 calories a
“We basically produce enough food to make you fat,” said the Rev.
Kenneth C. Horne Jr., executive director emeritus, Society of St.
Andrew. “The food is not very well distributed and never has been.”
When asked if worldwide hunger can be ended, Horne and others advocates give a resounding “Yes.”
“We have the means, we have the technology, we know a lot about what needs to happen,” said David Beckmann, president of Bread for the World, an interdenominational hunger organization.
“I was called to be a missionary economist,” Beckmann declared. “The
most important thing we can do is pray—get our prayers and priorities
The other thing Christians and people of faith can do is advocate
for the poor and hungry. Congregations who care about world hunger can
make a difference, he said.
“The main thing we need is more ‘give a damn.’ It is political will.”
Called by God
The Society of St. Andrew,
started in 1979, is a Christian ministry dedicated to “gleaning
America’s fields and feeding America’s hungry.” Horne, a United
Methodist pastor, co-founded the organization with another United
Methodist pastor, the Rev. Ray Buchanan.
Children at a school in Cite Soleil, near
Port-au-Prince, Haiti, eat meals provided
by Stop Hunger Now.
A UMNS photo by John Gordon.
“We felt ourselves very deeply called by God to be in ministry to
the poor and we were searching for the ways and means to do that,”
Excess produce translates into 15 million to 20 million pounds of
fresh food annually that goes from the field to a hungry person’s
plate, often the day it is gathered.
Mike Waldmann, current director of the Society of St. Andrew, said
“it is not a matter of doing good, it’s a matter of living your faith.”
“We’ve actually already solved hunger in this country. In this
country we just let it exist,” he added. “When you consider that we
waste more than enough food than is needed to feed every hungry person
in this country … how can you say hunger has not been solved?”
Time for a conversion
Miguel A. DeLaTorre, professor for social ethics at Iliff School of
Theology, pointed out that 20 percent of the people living in the
United States are the richest in the world; own 85 percent of all the
world’s income; produce 66 percent of the world’s greenhouse gases and
consume 70 percent of the world’s energy.
A young girl is surrounded by trash at the dump nicknamed Smokey
Mountain in Manila, Philippines. A UMNS file photo by Kathy L. Gilbert.
“Our lifestyle, our consumption, is literally stealing the natural resources of the rest of the global community,” he said.
People of faith have the power to turn the world upside down, he
said, but religious institutions needs to undergo a conversion.
“I’m not talking about conversion the way it has been understood
within very narrow evangelical circles,” he said. “I’m talking about
conversions to the actual teachings of our religious faith, to actually
do what that faith calls us to do.”
Read the Bible and one thing is pretty clear, God cares for the
poor, says Susanne Scholz, assistant professor of Old Testament at
Perkins School of Theology, Dallas.
“The concern for poor people is tremendous,” she said. “You have it
in Exodus 22, in Deuteronomy 10 … God stands on the side of the poor
Almost 50 percent of the world’s population is poor, she noted.
Almost 3 billion people live on less than $2 a day and over 1 billion
live on less than $1 a day.
“As Christians we should be not only horrified about it, we should make it our focus.”
Scientists and faith
The world’s population is outgrowing agriculture productivity,
especially in Africa, said Shivaji Pandey, director of plant production
and protection, Food and Agriculture Organization, Rome, Italy.
A child scavenges for food in a garbage pit near Malanje, Angola. A UMNS file
photo by Mike DuBose.
Pandey and James Butler, a staff executive with the Food and Agriculture Organization, feel a growing world can feed itself with technology.
Pandey pointed to bio-engineering that has brought the “Real Star”
grapefruit to the United States, eight varieties of rice to Vietnam and
Durham wheat to Italy.
However, the Rev. Jaydee Hanson, policy analyst for the Center for
Food Safety, doesn’t believe bio-technology is the solution to the
global food crisis. He said most genetic engineering is designed for
profit and to make plants immune to pesticides.
“In 30 years of making genetically modified crops, there’s not a
single commercial crop that’s been engineered for increased yield, for
drought-tolerance, for salt-tolerance, enhanced nutrition, or other
traits that you would want if you were gonna use this for fighting
hunger,” explained Hanson, a United Methodist.
Call for change
Horne believes that people need to rethink the way they live.
Pastors should encourage congregations to conduct business in a way
that consumes less energy. “Do away with the Styrofoam coffee cups for
one thing, let’s go with the nice china,” he suggested.
Washing coffee cups is not going to solve the world’s problems but
“it cements in the mind of the people in the congregation that there is
a problem and it has something to do with the way I live my life.”
Horne said he encourages telling people to write their congressional
representative, their senator and their state legislators to call for
Leadership worldwide needs to have a spirit of cooperation to solve
the problem, Horne said. “How many million people do we have to watch
starve to death before you get to that point?”
As prices for basic food items have doubled in the last two years,
many people only eat once a day. Some, like those mothers in Haiti,
watch their children eat mud cakes, while others have to choose between
feeding their children or educating them.
“We need to learn to pray ‘Give us this day our daily bread,’ with open eyes to the needs of the world,” Beckmann said.
*Gilbert is a United Methodist News Service news writer based in Nashville, Tenn.
News media contact: Kathy L. Gilbert, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5470 or email@example.com.
Can we feed the world?
It is Well Past Time to End Hunger
United Methodist Men promote hunger awareness
Food shortages hurt church response to hunger
Stop Hunger Now marks 10th with million meal event
UMCOR trains farmers to expand food supply
U.N. urges practical steps to help hungry
World food crisis especially impacts the poor
Bread for the World
The Earth Institute at Columbia University
Food and Agriculture Organization
International Center for Technology Assessment
Society of St. Andrew
“Roadmap to End Global Hunger”
United Methodist Board of Global Ministries
United Methodist Committee on Relief
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