By Julie Allen Berger, Volunteer
On Feb. 25, 2023 about 50 people attended an education and advocacy training event on Hunger and the Farm Bill, hosted at St. Pius Catholic Church by Bread for the World, Catholic Relief Services, and JustFaith Ministries. Regional and national representatives were on hand representing these organizations.
Faith leaders opened and closed our time with biblical reflections about God’s justice towards those who are hungry. We had table sharing throughout the morning.
We heard updates of what local hunger ministries are up to: St. Louis Area Foodbank, St. Vincent de Paul, Catholic Charities and Catholic Relief Service. (Of interest to me is that Voice of the Poor, an arm of St. Vincent de Paul, makes home visits to individuals unable to travel to food pantries. Voice of the Poor helps with hunger needs, utilities, rent, and clothing).
Among my learnings: USDA statistics show that 12% of Americans experience food insecurity. Of these, 29% do not qualify for federal government assistance due to having incomes above the established U.S. poverty level.
Another metric: 1 in 9 persons in the bistate region experiences hunger, according to St. Louis Area Foodbank.
Catholic Relief Services notes that 85 million people are currently displaced due to conflict worldwide and climate change. Asia and Latin America are areas of the world with the highest numbers of those experiencing hunger.
Participants learned that the Farm Bill is re-negotiated every five years in the US legislature. Hearings are underway now for Fall 2023 decision-making. Three-Fourths of Farm Bill funding goes toward nutrition. Worldwide 1 in 3 people suffer from either chronic undernourishment, vitamin/mineral deficiencies, and obesity. Bread for the World advocates for healthy nutrition, equity (ensuring food security for everyone) and sustainability (eliminating waste and keeping the environment functioning). More background about Bread for the World’s Farm Bill Policy Platform is at bread.org
How can we take next steps?
Bread for the World:
1. Congregations can take part this spring in Bread for the World’s Offering of Letters to legislators. Completing this effort by the end of May is the goal, in order to influence lawmakers working on the Farm Bill. Sample letters and ideas about congregational letter-writing events are at bread.org/OL Handwritten letters are best in terms of getting noticed, according to Bread for the World, followed by hand-signed letters with a personal note, and also emails. Delivering a collection of letters to local offices of federal legislators is encouraged. Visit bread.org/OL or contact Zach for more information and resources. Zach Schmidt, Senior Midwest Regional Organizer – [email protected]
2. Send a personalized email telling your senators and representative to support the reauthorization of the farm bill in order to build healthy, equitable and sustainable food systems. Go to bread.org/farmbill. Check the box to receive email updates and actions. Contact: Zach Schmidt, Senior Midwest Regional Organizer – [email protected]
Catholic Relief Services Chapters
Act Locally, Think Globally: Global Hunger isn’t inevitable. Migrants and refugees don’t need to live in fear and uncertainty. Farmers can recover from natural disasters and become more resilient to changing climate. How can you be a part of the solution? Join a community of changemakers. Catholic Relief Services Chapters and Clubs are communities of adults, university, and high school students who engage in advocacy and community giving aimed at eradicating global poverty and injustice.
Missouri Chapter: Contact Susan Buerkle: [email protected]
Metro-East Chapter: Contact Marge Francois: [email protected]
JustFaith Ministries creates transformative programs that inspire action to address the root causes of injustice while serving with love. There are programs that are Christian and also programs that are broadly spiritual and suited for any audience. For a complete list and description of programs go to justfaith.org.
Contact: Cheryl Sommer, St. Louis Organizer – [email protected].