Recently, a leading United Nations official termed our current world food crisis as the “new era of hunger.”
While many of us feel the pinch through increased grocery and fuel prices, we have little to complain about in comparison to much of the world’s population who spend 75 percent of their income on food. The “perfect storm” caused by high energy costs, climate changes, and skyrocketing oil prices is wreaking havoc throughout our world.
Presently, our legislative system is considering significant cuts in humanitarian spending. According to the House Committee on Agriculture, the McGovern-Dole Program has fed 26 million children in 41 countries since 2000. Current debates in the House and Senate show little promise for the continued impact of this valuable bipartisan program.
Far from existing solely as a Third World issue, the confines of hunger impact countless U.S. citizens. Maurice Smith of Feed Spokane recently conducted a 44-day fast in hopes of raising hunger awareness within our city. During his fast over the Lenten season, Smith encouraged Spokane residents to take action by donating used cell phones to support his nonprofit organization. The profits contributed to the organization’s purpose of turning surplus restaurant food into meals for needy individuals.
Restaurant workers also feel the impact of a downward- spiraling economy. In their search for greater efficiency, reduced donations to programs like Feed Spokane become a stark reality. While there may be less food to give away, Smith still insists that the amount of food thrown away could easily feed Spokane’s hungry population.
So what is it that keeps us from helping our undernourished neighbors? Certainly physical limitations can easily prohibit us from going the extra mile to help someone in need. As much as we would like to save the world, we all have days when it’s all we can do to keep ourselves afloat. Sometimes the fight to put food on our own table becomes a good reason to limit giving.
And yet, if we are honest with ourselves, it’s far too easy to forget about the rumbling of our neighbors’ stomachs. We would all like to escape the ripples poverty sends forth, but we must remember our security as citizens will be impacted by how we deal with those in need.
This spring I accepted a friend’s invitation to address world hunger by participating in Spokane’s Hunger Crop Walk. Feeling a thrill of excitement, I departed from Gonzaga University to walk through Riverfront Park with 367 others. The $200 I raised in pledges will go as far as Cambodia, where citizens will learn sustainable living skills – while at the same time benefiting programs like Spokane Valley Meals on Wheels.
Obviously my commitment to walk did little to solve hunger on a large scale. Yet, taking action on behalf of others breathes passion into problems. Whether walking on behalf of the poor, donating to a humanitarian cause, or calling our legislator, our communal efforts have the potential to usher in an era of stability.