A Gathering Voices post by Adam J. Copeland
It seems to be in the headlines every week in Minnesota -- “Homelessness Numbers Rise,” “Food Pantries Struggle to Keep up With Demand,” “Income Gap Widens” -- our world, and our nation, is hungry. I know this. But, at the same time, the problem is so overwhelming and wide-reaching that it paralyzes me.
When I consider hunger in America, I think back to a youth group activity many years ago for which we were split into different small groups. Each group was to buy and then make an evening meal. The catch: we had a day’s worth of food stamps from which to do it (or something like that, at least). So we went out to the store and found, very quickly, how difficult it is to live on food stamps alone. Nobody went home from that youth group session very full, but we learned a lesson.
Similarly, a few years ago the Michigan and Oregon governors lived for a time on the equivalent to their state’s food stamp aid. In Minnesota, there’s currently a debate raging about whether residents on public assistance should be able to access more then $20 in cash each month.
With this background in mind, I read David Beckmann’s Exodus from Hunger: We Are Called to Change the Politics of Hunger. It’s a good book, helping put the hunger fight in context, both in the U.S and beyond. Beckmann has made a career out of this struggle, and I most appreciated his perspective as a person of faith. The premise of the book is summed up in this word from the introduction:
I’m convinced that the binding constraint [for hunger reduction] is political will, and that stronger leadership from the U.S. government is crucial. I’m also convinced that God is present in this struggle, and that people of faith and conscience should do our part, partly by changing U.S. politics on hunger and poverty issues.
Please don’t put this book down without deciding to do something to help build a stronger political constituency for U.S. policies to provide help and opportunity for hungry and poor people.
Beckmann serves as president of Bread for the World, “a collective Christian voice urging our nation’s leaders to end hunger in our country and the world.” The book is sort of an overview of Bread for the World’s mission, an extended explanation of our current crisis and a work of passionate hope for how we might address it politically.
The book is in three parts. Part one addresses the present crisis with helpful charts and more personal vignettes. Part two hits the faith angle, arguing that caring for the hungry is both a Biblical mandate and would be a boon to America. The third part is a rallying cry for forward movement.
Perhaps my favorite quote from the work comes from British Prime Minister, David Cameron: “Poverty is not acceptable in our country today. Not when we have people who earn more in a lunchtime than millions will earn in a lifetime, not when we understand so clearly how wealth is created and poverty eradicated.” I also especially appreciated Beckmann’s close connection of our call to eradicate hunger as a call from God.
Most of my experience with Bread for the World (beside hanging out with a friend who works there) is participating in their letter writing campaigns to elected officials, what they call “An Offering of Letters.” I’ve also used them to follow hunger-related legislation through the legislative process. I definitely have some friends who scoff at these letter writing campaigns, so let me be clear (and also remind myself): it’s a false choice between either writing legislators and volunteering at food pantries, and it’s most certainly the case that legislators listen to careful cries for hunger-related justice.
So, if you’re feeling overwhelmed with hunger and poverty headlines, or if you just wish to understand the situation surrounding the politics of hunger more clearly, pick up a copy of Exodus from Hunger and feed your soul.
Purchase @ www.TheThoughtfulChristian.com
Exodus from Hunger
By David Beckmann
40% Discount! Only $9.00!
See also: this Study Guide