|Potato Drop at General Conference Feeds Hungry Texans|
by Barbara Wheeler*
April 25, 2008, Fort Worth -- Bringing attention to hunger in the United States and around the world, United Methodists gathered for a "potato drop" at their quadrennial legislative meeting.
Forty thousand sweet potatoes from East Texas were delivered or "dropped" at the Fort Worth Convention Center. Volunteers loaded them onto trucks and vans for delivery.
Sponsored by the Central Texas Conference Task Force on Hunger and the Society of St. Andrew, the potato drop called attention to the challenge of hunger in today's world. "This event is a symptom of a disease that needs to be treated," said Ken Horne, Society of St. Andrew's co-founder. The Society of St. Andrew (Advance #801600) is the country's largest gleaner of fresh produce. Mr. Horne said The United Methodist Church is in a unique position to lead the effort against hunger.
"I think the church's role is to do all we can to meet the needs of those who are hungry," said Bishop Ben Chamness, of the Fort Worth area. "This is to call attention to the need and one way it can be addressed."
Women's Division director Edna Davis from Central Texas Conference attended the event on behalf of United Methodist Women. Ms. Davis joined others in loading boxes of sweet potatoes onto waiting vehicles. "If the church isn't doing something, who is?" Ms. Davis said. "We sit back and let the government take care of the church's business for too long."
Jennifer Bellamy from the Central Texas Conference Task Force on Hunger said the potato drop is a symbol of how much the church cares.
Local agencies will distribute the food, including several related to The United Methodist Church. Arlington Urban Ministries in Arlington, Texas, United Community Centers, Inc., a United Methodist mission institution, and First Street Methodist Mission, both in Fort Worth, were among the recipients. The Tarrant Area Food Bank and North Texas Food Bank also received donations of sweet potatoes.
"I believe the biggest witness we have as a church is to provide people with basic human needs," Ms. Bellamy said. "It's a great way for growers to give back and for church members to volunteer."
Ms. Bellamy, director of humanitarian services for Central Texas Conference, also works with United Methodist Volunteers in Mission teams in the conference. She said the Task Force on Hunger works to provide education on hunger-related issues and opportunities for the church to respond.
"I think hunger is the most basic need we have," she said.
Each year Central Texas Conference churches collect a ThanksLiving offering at Thanksgiving that is given to an UMCOR-related project that works to prevent hunger.
* Barbara Wheeler is an executive secretary for communications for the Women's Division of the United Methodist General Board of Global Ministries.
Date posted: Apr 25, 2008