Programs to feed the hungry go far beyond the soup kitchen of yesteryear. Nowadays, groups grow protein in urban tilapia ponds, minister through Meals on Wheels and teach others how to cook nutritiously, all in effort to eradicate hunger.
These programs and more were discussed at the recent hunger solutions breakfast hosted at St. Matthew’s Cathedral in Dallas. The ecumenical event brought in speakers from a variety of backgrounds and faiths to share information about hunger to about 100 participants.
The Rev. Joe Clifford of First Presbyterian Church and Rabbi Debra Robbins talked about the importance of caring for those who are hungry. Clifford spoke from first-hand experience -- First Presbyterian started The Stewpot in the 1970s to feed the homeless and provide day center services connecting those in extreme poverty with available services.
Participants at the breakfast also talked about hunger solutions they offered at their church or organization, including someone from Campus Crusade for Christ who said his organization had been working on developing small tilapia ponds in urban settings as economically efficient sources of sustainable protein.
The Dallas Coalition for Hunger Solutions also provided an update booklet on ideas for the faith community that includes programs for nourishing seniors, fruit and vegetable gardening, nutrition education, emergency food, supplemental nutrition assistance and child hunger.
The booklet provides riveting testimonials about how the programs have touched the lives of the poor and the volunteers. For instance, a program titled Nourishing Neighbors provides homebound seniors and mature adults with disabilities access to fresh food for balanced nutrition.
“It has made a difference in my life,” said Helen, a recipient of the program. “I wouldn’t have the money for the medication I need without the program. I’m able to have fruit two times a day when before I couldn’t buy fruit because I couldn’t get it home. Now I don’t have to ask people to pick-up things for me. It gives me a sense of independence.”
Dabney Dwyer, the Commissioner for Mission and Outreach for the diocese, said that hunger is an underrated issue in our country and it’s up to the Christian community to address it.
“Jesus commands us over and over to take care of the poor – the hungry,” Dwyer said. She noted that Deuteronomy 15:7 says, “If among you, one of your brothers should become poor, in any of your towns within your land that the Lord your God is giving you, you shall not harden your heart or shut your hand against your poor brother.”
Hunger and poor nutrition causes more expensive health problems if not addressed. “Children who are hungry and do not receive nutritious meals on a daily basis suffer in many ways,” Dwyer said. “Research has proven that the effects of hunger on children decreases concentration, contributes greatly to poor school performance, absenteeism and triples the likelihood of hospitalization.”
Learn more about how your church can address hunger in your community got to www.hungersolutions.org, or contact Dabney Dwyer at .