Deni Peterson walks through one of the hoop houses on her small farm, Blue Door Garden, in Abingdon, Va. She and her husband Tom grow a variety of produce, including lettuce, arugula, potatoes, asparagus, strawberries, and apples, many of which they sell at Abingdon Farmers Market.
Courtesy of Bread for the World
Hunger at Home
By Julia Kayser*
June 1, 2012
―Have you ever experienced hunger? The empty, “Time for lunch!” feeling is only the beginning. If you skip a meal (or two or three) you may have a hard time concentrating, staying warm, or regulating your mood. Those prone to low blood sugar may feel shaky. Before long, you will run out of energy and just want to go to sleep.
How many kids in the United States are feeling those things every day at school? According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 16.2 million children live in households that struggle to put food on the table. Of the 20 million children who receive free or reduced-price lunch, fewer than half receive breakfast. More than one in five children in the United States is at risk of going hungry.
In the United States, we produce more than enough food to feed everyone. We have the infrastructure to deliver it and stores to distribute it. Food is available. People only go hungry because they can’t afford to buy it.
Hunger is directly correlated with poverty. With the world’s twelfth highest
Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita, the United States has high yearly economic profits in proportion to its population. However, 14.5 percent of U.S. households struggle to put food on the table. A 2007 report from the Urban Institute estimates that 51.4 percent of Americans will live in poverty at some point before the age of 65.
People are struggling, even in one of the most affluent nations in the world, because of income inequality
. The U.S. suffers much higher levels of income inequality than most of Europe and the Middle East, as well as other countries such as Russia, India, Indonesia, Australia, Algeria and Tanzania. The U.S. has similar income inequality levels to Argentina, Colombia, Madagascar, Côte d’Ivoire, Uganda, China, and Malaysia, to name a few.
And income inequality is worse for racial minorities in the United States. African American and Latino children have a one-in-three chance of going hungry, as compared to the national average of one in five. We need more than food pantries to eliminate hunger at home: we need economic reform and racial justice.
UMCOR is committed to “addressing the root causes of hunger,” says June Kim, executive secretary of UMCOR’s World Hunger and Poverty programs. Grants are awarded to organizations that are “economic-justice oriented,” she explains.
For example, UMCOR supports the Advocating Congregations project of the Faith Action Network
. In the face of economic recession and huge spending cuts at every level, this ecumenical project aims to preserve state-funded programs that help the most vulnerable people in Washington State. June says, "Given the difficult economic times, the importance of addressing legislation and polices that impact poor and hungry are heightened."
UMCOR has also helped to fund the Justice for Farmworkers Campaign
in New York State, which benefits rural and migrant workers, and the Souper Bowl of Caring
project, which empowers youth to “tackle hunger” through fundraising and advocacy.
UMCOR is “leveraging United Methodist resources to create a lasting impact,” says June. Your support is what makes it possible. By addressing hunger’s root causes, we are combating hunger at home. Your gift to World Hunger and Poverty, UMCOR Advance #982920
will help us do it.