Love into Action
UMCOR’S World Hunger /Poverty Program
by June H. Kim
The World Hunger/Poverty Program has been an integral part of the United Methodist Committee on Relief’s (UMCOR) mission to enable United Methodist congregations to put love into action. More than 800 million people in the world go hungry every day. This fact is difficult to comprehend since we live in a world that has unparalleled wealth and food production capacity. It is not a question of whether there is enough food but a matter of accessibility and equal distribution to all people, regardless of their class, gender, geography, religion, earning power, or status.
The task of trying to resolve the problem of hunger and poverty is by no means simple. It involves many layers of socio-economic and political structures and systems that may be difficult to influence or control. As a church that follows the teachings of Wesley and Christ, we have a responsibility to share the blessings that God has bestowed upon us. We must also be of a mind to do this “sharing” in the spirit of sacrifice rather than
charity. Charity is giving out of one’s excess. Sacrifice is giving when we ourselves may not have enough. As Christ sacrificed himself for us, so we must strive to follow his example.
The World Hunger/Poverty Program
UMCOR’s World Hunger/Poverty Program strategies develop and support integrated programs that emphasize:
· Agriculture, rural development, and food security;
· Stewardship of natural resources and the environment;
· Education, training, and literacy;
· Microcredit and enterprise development;
· Urban agriculture;
· Leadership development;
· Supplemental food programs;
· Advocacy to alleviate hunger and poverty;
· The mobilization of resources through United Methodist connections;
· Eradication of the root causes of hunger and poverty.
HOW TO COMBAT HUNGER
United Methodists can help alleviate hunger and poverty around the world by choosing to observe, participate in, and support hunger/poverty programs and activities through UMCOR and its partners.
Observe the Days:
World Food Day: October 16th
The United Nations passed the World Food Day resolution in 1979 to set an annual international observance. World Food Day brings people around the world together to focus on ending hunger and on the problems of food insecurity.
National Hunger Awareness Day: June 5th
Awareness Day, sponsored by
Join Advocacy Organizations:
Bread for the World and Bread for the World Institute (Advance #982325-3)
Bread for the World (BFW) is a nationwide Christian citizens movement seeking justice for the world’s hungry people by lobbying the nation’s decision makers. United Methodists churches are encouraged to build a covenant partnership with BFW and observe BFW Sunday in the fall.
Agricultural Missions, Inc. (Advance #982065-8)
Agricultural Missions, Inc. (AMI) is an ecumenical organization that accompanies rural peoples in their efforts to address the root causes of impoverishment and injustice in their communities. Since its founding in 1930, and as a longstanding partner with UMCOR, the organization has been a ministry striving to fulfill the Gospel’s promise of abundant life for all.
Agricultural Missions addresses “cutting edge” issues, such as land and agrarian reform, the rights of indigenous peoples, the rights of small and minority farmers in the United States, gender equity, sustainable use of natural resources, globalization and trade, and the use of biotechnology in agriculture.
Work for Hunger Programs
Souper Bowl of Caring
The Souper Bowl of Caring is a simple but significant youth- and young-adult-led effort to fight hunger and poverty. The Souper Bowl of Caring encourages people to give one dollar and/or a canned food item as they leave worship on Super Bowl Sunday. All collections are sent by the youth to the kitchen, food bank, or other hunger organization of their choice. In addition, the youths are encouraged to participate in a “Service Blitz,” in which they volunteer at a local food bank or charity in their neighborhood.
Since Souper Bowl’s inception, youth participants have generated a total of more than $16.6 million.
Foods Resource Bank (Advance #982493-1)
Foods Resource Bank (FRB) is modeled after the successful Canadian Foodgrains Bank and is a new “Christian response to world hunger.” FRB is a nongovernmental humanitarian organization that supports sustainable development programs which address food security.
UMCOR Coffee Project
What kind of coffee is served in your church? Is it fairly traded coffee? The UMCOR Coffee Project is a partnership with a Fair Trade organization called Equal Exchange, whose products are 100 percent fairly traded (coffee, tea, cocoa products). Products that are “fairly traded” ensure that farmers and workers receive fair pay for their labor. For every order through the UMCOR Coffee Project, Equal Exchange contributes a portion of the proceeds back to UMCOR for programs of sustainable agriculture and empowerment.
Society of St. Andrew
The Society of St. Andrew (SoSA) is an ecumenical Christian ministry that feeds the hungry all year long by saving fresh produce that would otherwise go to waste and giving it to the needy. SoSA’s unique approach is the “Gleaning Network,” a project that coordinates volunteers, growers, and distribution agencies to salvage food for the needy. Each year, 35,000 volunteers from churches, synagogues, scout troops, senior-citizen groups, and other groups coordinated by Hunger Advocates participate in Society of St. Andrew gleaning activities. They salvage over 11 million pounds of produce for the poor.
“Whose Birthday Is It Anyway?”/UMCOR Christmas Cards
“Whose Birthday Is It Anyway” is a great resource for people and congregations who are searching for deeper meaning in the Christmas holiday. Stories, games, Bible studies, and much more help you, your family, and your congregation to approach the Christmas holiday from a perspective of faith and spirituality. You will also find a “different kind of Christmas list,” which is designed to feed, heal, and educate and to spread the love that Christ brought to the world. United Methodist churches can purchase UMCOR Christmas cards as an alternative to ones purchased at a retail store. The proceeds support UMCOR.
UMCOR, through its
Sustainable Agriculture & Development (SA&D) program, supports and
implements sustainable agricultural projects directly, especially in
Put Love Into Action
Through the various partners and projects of UMCOR’s World Hunger/Poverty program, United Methodists can become advocates, raising awareness for and being in partnership with those who are oppressed, poor, and hungry. Whether seeking out and purchasing fairly traded or organically grown products, using environmentally safe or recyclable items, wearing clothing that was not made with child labor, or writing letters to Congress, we, as faith-based consumers, have the power to influence the marketers, multinational corporations, and even our own government. Adhering to Christ’s call to serve one another, we recognize that the lifestyle choices we make every day can have an impact for better or for worse.
* June H. Kim is the executive secretary for World Hunger/Poverty and SA&D in UMCOR.
Date posted: Jul 14, 2003