ELCA World Hungerhttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/ELCAWorldHunger/Announcing a New Partnership and Grant Opportunity: ELCA World Hunger and the Campus Kitchens Project!Ryan P. Cumminghttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/ELCAWorldHunger/644http://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/ELCAWorldHunger/644<div class="ExternalClassC63A1CC4F8314E05AA58BD10AB1E71B2"><p><img alt="WH_4_color_Small_Website.gif" src="http://search.elca.org/blogs/SiteAssets/Lists/ELCA%20World%20Hunger/Browse/WH_4_color_Small_Website.gif" style="margin&#58;5px;width&#58;381px;" /><img alt="CKP_Logo-Black.png" src="http://search.elca.org/blogs/SiteAssets/Lists/ELCA%20World%20Hunger/Browse/CKP_Logo-Black.png" style="margin&#58;5px;width&#58;248px;" />&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; </p><p>Anyone familiar with a college or university knows that there is a LOT happening on campuses these days!&#160; More and more students are becoming involved in service and activism, on campus and off.&#160; The leadership, creativity and passion for justice among college students are amazing, and we are happy to announce a new opportunity for students to fight hunger in their communities!</p><p>Through an ELCA World Hunger Education grant, ELCA World Hunger and the Campus Kitchens Project (CKP) have launched a new opportunity for ELCA colleges and universities and Lutheran Campus Ministries on public and private campuses.&#160; With this partnership between ELCA World Hunger and CKP, students that are eager to start or to deepen their anti-hunger work will have access to funding and support to launch a Campus Kitchen at their school!</p><p><strong>This year, ELCA World Hunger will provide up to </strong><strong>$5,000 each to two campuses to launch Campus Kitchens </strong><strong>at their schools!</strong>&#160; This start-up funding will help new kitchens build support and meet the needs for a successful launch.&#160; In addition, CKP and ELCA World Hunger will help provide assistance and support during the launch, including helping link campuses with community partners.&#160; </p><p><a href="http&#58;//www.campuskitchens.org/"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">The Campus Kitchens Project</span></a> is a national non-profit that empowers student leaders to create innovative and sustainable solutions to hunger. Campus Kitchen students rescue food that would have gone to waste from a variety of sources, primarily their on-campus dining hall cafeterias, but also from local restaurants, supermarkets, food banks, and farms and use that food to prepare and serve balanced nutritious meals food insecure residents in their communities. Students involved in Campus Kitchens learn to see wasted resources as a sustainable solution to community issues and gain valuable service learning and leadership experiences, which build upon and enhance their work in the classroom. </p><p>The model CKP provides has had a tremendous impact in communities.&#160; <a href="http&#58;//www.campuskitchens.org/financials/"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">In the 2013-2014 school year alone, more than 19,000 student volunteers dedicated nearly 75,000 hours to recover 939,034 pounds of food for 8,509 clients!</span></a>&#160; What is more, <strong>95% of students involved with CKP report that they have acquired skills that make them more likely to find a job,</strong> and 90% say they are more likely to address food insecurity in their own communities after graduation.</p><p>As readers of this blog know, ELCA World Hunger is dedicated to addressing the root causes of hunger, to be sure that families and individuals can feed themselves in the long-term.&#160; Both the ELCA and CKP share this focus.&#160; As folks from CKP will say, &quot;We can't feed ourselves out of hunger.&quot;&#160; Ending hunger requires a complex, multi-pronged approach based in relationships with neighbors.&#160; For students involved with CKP, the relationships built through programs at their Campus Kitchens are the most energizing part of their work.&#160; And it is these relationships built through sharing food that give students and partners a way to go deeper into hunger, providing nutritional education, SNAP outreach, and a variety of other programs to address the many-layered causes of hunger in their communities.</p><p>We had our first webinar yesterday to showcase this opportunity, and you can check it out below!&#160; You can also find a recording of it <a href="https&#58;//www.youtube.com/watch?v=n1rzmNbt_54&amp;feature=youtu.be"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">here</span></a>.&#160; To learn more about the grant and how to apply, visit <a href="http&#58;//www.campuskitchens.org/elca"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">www.campuskitchens.org/elca</span></a> or email ELCA World Hunger Education at <a href="mailto&#58;Ryan.Cumming@elca.org">Ryan.Cumming@elca.org</a>.&#160; To learn more about Campus Kitchens that are already up and running, check out <a href="http&#58;//www.augsburg.edu/campuskitchen/">Augsburg College's Campus Kitchen </a>or the <a href="http&#58;//www.mnsu.edu/activities/kitchen/about/">Campus Kitchen at Minnesota State University, Mankato</a>!</p><p>&#160;</p><div class="ms-rtestate-read ms-rte-embedcode ms-rte-embedil ms-rtestate-notify" unselectable="on"><iframe width="420" height="315" src="https&#58;//www.youtube.com/embed/n1rzmNbt_54" frameborder="0"></iframe>&#160;</div></div>02/11/2015The Church I SeeRyan P. Cumminghttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/ELCAWorldHunger/643http://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/ELCAWorldHunger/643<div class="ExternalClass8A7CCAE9F15C42868CFE26BE90AB2DC7"><p>When was the last time you were proud to be Christian?&#160; When was the last time you felt good about calling yourself a Lutheran?</p><p>Articles, blogs, surveys, statements, and so on keep telling us that the Church is in crisis, that mainstream denominations are bleeding members and funds, that churches are trading vitality for gimmicks to stem the flow out the doors.&#160; Too often, the public face of Christianity in the U.S. seems to be a culture of &quot;no&quot; – no to diverse sexualities, no to religious diversity, no to science, no, no, no.&#160; Flocks of young people, with worldviews distant from generations past, are hastening away from a religion whose presence in the news is often a portrait of stodginess, of anachronisms, or – at its worst – of simply hate in action.&#160; The pseudo-Christianity that holds sway in media portrayals of faith communities makes it difficult for many of us to identify as Christians – and as Evangelical Lutherans – with pride in our church.</p><p>But there are times when that vision of the church wafts away like the thin, untenable shell that it is.&#160; This happens a lot in the work that I am blessed to do.&#160; If I may, let me tell you about the church that I see.</p><p>Last year, I was at a summit hosted by the Alliance to End Hunger in Washington, DC.&#160; For the opening panel, I sat at a random table, a nobody among leaders and representatives of some of the most prominent anti-hunger organizations in the country.&#160; Across from me was a man representing a food bank out west.&#160; He shook my hand and thanked me.&#160; His food bank was supported by a Domestic Hunger Grant from ELCA World Hunger.&#160; Next to him was a woman representing a meal delivery program in the South.&#160; She likewise extended her gratitude; her program, too, was supported by ELCA World Hunger.&#160; To my immediate left?&#160; The father of a young woman who co-wrote a resource on food drives for us, herself &quot;raised and retained&quot; ELCA.&#160; Where was his daughter?&#160; On the stage, about to present to this diverse group and, unbeknownst to her, about to receive a scholarship for her anti-hunger work.&#160; </p><p>The ELCA is a member of the Alliance, but far beyond that, we are THERE in many profound ways.</p><p>I have had the chance to travel to many states and to Latin America in my work with ELCA World Hunger.&#160; And the overwhelming impression I have taken from the conversations I have had and the things I have heard has been how well-respected our Church is among ecumenical partners, local communities, and companion churches.&#160; Our commitment to accompanying our partners and companions opens up vital spaces in which we can learn and share with one another and engage in vibrant ministries in communities around the world.&#160; </p><p>While in Colombia with colleagues from the Global Mission unit of the ELCA and representatives of our companion church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Colombia (IELCO), we had the unique opportunity to meet with three men from <em>Caminando Juntos</em> (&quot;Walking Together&quot;), an advocacy, activism, and support group for people infected with HIV/AIDS that is part of IELCO's ministry in Colombia.&#160; We heard stories of the group's successes in accompanying newly diagnosed members, in helping to secure medication, and in raising awareness of HIV/AIDS throughout the church.&#160; This was the first time members of the group had met with people outside the group.&#160; </p><p>This is a ministry supported by grants from ELCA World Hunger to IELCO's Diakonia ministry.&#160; We have been invited to be part of this work with our support, and our Church has said &quot;YES.&quot;&#160; And we have been enriched as Church because of it.&#160; </p><p>On that same trip, w<img alt="2014-05-04 11.36.57.jpg" src="http://search.elca.org/blogs/SiteAssets/Lists/ELCA%20World%20Hunger/Browse/2014-05-04%2011.36.57.jpg" style="margin&#58;5px;width&#58;187px;vertical-align&#58;auto;float&#58;left;" />e climbed up a mountain in northern Colombia to visit with the Christian Kogui Community, an indigenous community facing significant challenges in defending their rights to education, health care, and religious freedom.&#160; When they converted to Christianity years ago, they lost their protected status as &quot;indigenous peoples,&quot; which led to eviction from their traditional lands, lack of access to subsidized health care, and reduced opportunities for education.&#160; Through IELCO, ELCA World Hunger helped some of the families in this community purchase land, including farms that provide food to Kogui families.&#160; </p><p>Our support for IELCO, in part, helps to provide the Kogui community with partners in their struggle to advocate for themselves.&#160; We have been invited to be part of this work with our support and to learn from it by our presence, and our Church has said &quot;YES.&quot;&#160; And we have been enriched as Church because of it.</p><p>&#160;</p><p>&#160;</p><p>Backpack programs in Iowa, shelters for homeless youth in New York and Texas, re-entry programs for men released from prison in California, community gardens and nutritional education in Wisconsin, hospitals in the Holy Land, refugee camps in Jordan and Kenya, improved sanitation programs in Myanmar – we have been invited to be part of this work with our support and our presence, and our Church has said &quot;YES.&quot;&#160; And we have been enriched as Church because of it.</p><p>Our colleagues in ELCA Advocacy in Washington, DC, New York, and a variety of state public policy offices are prominent voices for justice, leading the charge on issues ranging from minimum wage and protections for workers, to care for creation, to federal safety net programs for people who fall on hard times.&#160; Whether on the international, national, or state level, Lutherans have said &quot;YES&quot; to being part of – and leading – conversations about justice, peace, and fairness.&#160; </p><p>We are there.&#160; It may not get written about in the papers.&#160; It may not end up on the &quot;Today&quot; show.&#160; It may not go viral like a hate-filled protest at a military funeral, but it does not go unnoticed.&#160; With faith in God who ordains that government should be just, that every person's rights should be protected, the ELCA joins its voice to the symphony of cries for justice and peace. When the world says, &quot;No&quot; to human beings and to the environment – &quot;No, there isn't enough money to support people in need during an economic crisis,&quot; &quot;No, protecting the environment would risk too many jobs&quot; – the Church says, &quot;YES&quot; – &quot;<em>Yes</em>, we can support people in need,&quot; &quot;<em>Yes</em>, we can practice sustainability in ways that benefit both humans and non-human creation,&quot; &quot;<em>Yes</em>, we can and must protect the rights of children, workers, immigrants, refugees, and all those who are vulnerable.&quot;</p><p>This is what I see...</p><ul><li>In a small town on Long Island, a visually impaired man whose home was ravaged by Hurricane Sandy stood with us and watched as members of ecumenical group helped rebuild his home.&#160; Lutheran Disaster Response was there, and remains there.</li><li>In Port Ludlow, Washington, a young girl receives a backpack full of food to help ensure she will eat during the weekend, when she doesn't have access to breakfast or lunch at school.&#160; Peace Lutheran Fellowship and ELCA World Hunger are there, and remain there.</li><li>In Minneapolis, Minnesota, a man who is a refugee from Liberia participates in a program to help him learn skills to get a job and acclimate to American culture, ensuring he can use his gifts to support himself and his family.&#160; Daily Work and ELCA World Hunger are there, and remain there.</li><li>In Texas, a young boy fleeing violence in Central America crosses a border after a perilous journey through Mexico and finds a safe place where he is welcomed and cared for.&#160; Lutheran Social Services of the South and the ELCA are there, and remain there, even after the boy is placed in a home and given the support he needs to grow up in a place where his gifts and talents can be nurtured.</li><li>In Detroit, Michigan, young children learn the skills necessary to make healthy eating choices and gain skills to help improve their ability to read.&#160; Revelation Evangelical Lutheran Church and ELCA World Hunger are there, and remain there.</li><li>In Los Angeles, California, a mother and daughter serve food to their neighbors at a community meal, while during the week they receive food themselves, to help them make it through the month.&#160; They are there, My Friend's House is there, and ELCA World Hunger is there, and remain there.</li><li>In River Forest, Illinois, young children learn about hunger while collecting gifts to purchase a family farm to support agricultural projects halfway around the world that will help hundreds of families feed themselves for years to come.&#160; Grace Lutheran Church (River Forest) and ELCA World Hunger are there, and remain there, even as their hearts and gifts extend to our companions continents away.</li></ul><p>There are hundreds of these ministries supported by ELCA World Hunger and Lutheran Disaster Response, and thousands more that are supported directly by gifts from church members, community partners, and others.&#160; Any question about the power of faith to inspire people to respond to God's invitation to be part of God's work in the world is answered unequivocally, every day in the nearly 10,000 congregations of the ELCA and the hundreds of places around the world where people of faith work together to end hunger, walk together, and be fed – physically, spiritually, mentally, emotionally, socially.</p><p>As people of faith, we have to take seriously the criticisms levied against organized religion by its critics.&#160; We certainly have not gotten everything right, and there have been times in history when the Church has been an agent of injustice, rather than a presence of justice and hope. &#160;We move toward a future promised by God knowing that still, we will not get everything right.&#160; We are saints and sinners, after all.</p><p>But the critics of organized religion &#160;- and we ourselves – also must take seriously the multitude of ministries made possible by God's invitation to authentic relationships and mutual ministry.&#160; These stories may not get told on the mountain – they may be whispered about in the valley – but they are there, and they are part of who we are as Church together.&#160; We have the opportunity to change the picture, to cast a vision of the ELCA and of Christianity as the community of justice and love that it is called to be.&#160; And in so many ways, our Church and the churches of our partners and companions have said &quot;YES.&quot;</p><p>Everyday, the ELCA, its partners, its companions, and other people of goodwill are painting a picture of a faith that is vibrant, active, authentic, meaningful, life-giving, and justice-seeking.&#160; To God's invitation to be part of the work the Holy Spirit is doing in communities around the world, our Church has sounded a mighty &quot;YES!&quot;&#160; As individual people of faith, what will we say?&#160; Will we be part of the transformation of the public face of Christianity as a religion of &quot;no&quot; to a religion of &quot;yes&quot; – yes to our neighbors, yes to God's work in the world, yes to a world in which all are fed, yes to communities of justice and equity?&#160; </p><p>&#160;</p><p style="text-align&#58;center;"><em>&quot;Listen, Listen God is calling,</em></p><p style="text-align&#58;center;"><em>through the Word inviting…&quot;</em></p><p>&#160;</p><p><em>Ryan P. Cumming, Ph.D., is Program Director for Hunger Education for ELCA World Hunger.&#160; He can be reached at </em><a href="mailto&#58;Ryan.Cumming@ELCA.org"><em>Ryan.Cumming@ELCA.org</em></a><em>.</em></p><p>&#160;</p><p>&#160;</p></div>01/29/2015Food Insecurity is Real - Even in IowaAlison Northrophttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/ELCAWorldHunger/642http://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/ELCAWorldHunger/642<div class="ExternalClass6EA3497D1017456888A0DB22CF7F6165"><p><em>This week, we are happy to welcome Alison Northrop as a guest writer.&#160; Her post below originally appeared in the January newsletter of Zion St. John Lutheran Church in Sheffield, Iowa, and on the Northeastern Iowa Synod's blog, &quot;God's Work, Our Blog.&quot;&#160; If you haven't had a chance to see the synod's blog, check it out for some great posts at </em><a href="http&#58;//www.northeasterniowasynodelca.blogspot.com/"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;"><em>www.northeasterniowasynodelca.blogspot.com</em></span></a><em>. </em></p><p>When I was younger, I was a picky eater. To be fair, the incident I'm about to describe involved eating lamb brains at an age when I still enjoyed the show &quot;Lamb Chop's Play-Along.&quot; I was at a Greek restaurant in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, with my father and his mother.&#160;</p><p>Absolutely nothing on the menu was appealing to me. The restaurant smelled funny, I was tired, and quite frankly, I was stubborn. I remember settling on a salad which was far from filling, but at least I knew what was in it. Then my grandmother declared that I would try her dinner, and I would like it. Folks, it's a terrible idea to tell an 8 year-old that you just made her eat brains – while she's still chewing.&#160;</p><p>As I spat out my food and frantically tried to rinse my mouth out, my grandmother gave me THE line. <em>&quot;There are starving children in Ethiopia. You should be grateful to have food!&quot;</em> At the time, I mumbled that I would be more grateful to have normal food, but like most picky eaters, I heard this line frequently through childhood.</p><p><strong>Over 800 million people in the world are chronically hungry. </strong>That's 1 in 8. Chronically hungry means undernourished to the point of not being able to lead a normal, active life. Notice I said world, not just Ethiopia. When American people think of hungry children, many typically think of African children whose bones stick out. Those children do exist and do need our help, but there's another face of hunger that we don't like to think about. You see these faces all the time, in person.&#160;</p><p>If you think there are no hungry children in small-town Iowa, you are so very mistaken. Food insecure children often rely on their schools for regular meals. These children can depend on their schools for breakfast and lunch but often don't know if they will eat dinner when they go home, or if they will have much or anything to eat over the weekend and school holidays. These children may be irritable or hyperactive, show vitamin deficiencies, and have difficulties in school. Chronic hunger affects brain development; necessary development for our future leaders.&#160;</p><p><strong>One out of every two children will rely on food assistance at some point in their lives</strong><strong>.</strong><a href="/blogs/Lists/ELCA%20World%20Hunger/NewForm.aspx?Source=http%3a//search-admin.elca.org/blogs/Lists/ELCA%2520World%2520Hunger/Browse.aspx%23InplviewHash0c1eef9b-303a-45ca-8f67-7d206737f1cc%3D&amp;RootFolder=#_ftn1"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">[1]</span></a> That assistance isn't always enough. In fact, it rarely is. The price of food steadily climbs, and parents often have to choose between healthy food for a week or two and junk food that they can stretch through the month. A twelve-pack of Ramen noodles is less than half the price of a gallon of milk. What would you do in that situation? Empty calories get you through the day, but it's incredibly unhealthy in the long term.&#160;</p><p>The problem is not with food production. This planet produces enough food to feed its entire population. The problem is with distribution. It could be a corrupt government that withholds foreign aid from its people.&#160;</p><p>Or it could be a food desert or <a href="http&#58;//www.ers.usda.gov/amber-waves/2010-march/access-to-affordable%2c-nutritious-food-is-limited-in-%E2%80%9Cfood-deserts%E2%80%9D.aspx#box2"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">&quot;food swamp&quot;</span></a> in large metropolitan cities and small towns. A rural food desert is classified as a county where residents have to drive 10 or more miles to the nearest supermarket or grocery store. The classification of an urban food desert is one mile to the nearest supermarket or grocery store.&#160;</p><p>So how do people get to this point? Laziness? Drugs? Sometimes, yes. But when <a href="http&#58;//www.cbpp.org/cms/?fa=view&amp;id=3894"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">more than half (and as much as 85%) of families on food assistance have at least one working adult in the home</span></a>, I find it hard to believe that the majority of those who are hungry are lazy. Often, it's a matter of circumstance.&#160;</p><p>Those who are born into poverty are more likely to stay in poverty. Sometimes the main provider of a family loses their job and cannot find another. Some families go from a two-parent home to a one-parent home, often due to divorce or death. Have you ever wondered what a single parent with multiple children goes through when the other parent doesn't pay child support? &#160;</p><p>Why should any of us help people facing food insecurity? Some of us have fallen on tough times ourselves and pulled ourselves up by our bootstraps.&#160;</p><p>Maybe we should do it because the children in these situations didn't make the choices that got them there. Whether it's the parent's bad choices, lost jobs, or divorce, it is NOT the fault of the child.&#160;</p><p>Maybe we should help these families because it's what Jesus expects of us.&#160;</p><blockquote dir="ltr" style="text-align&#58;left;margin-right&#58;0px;"><p style="margin-left&#58;0px;"><em>For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in...</em></p><p style="margin-left&#58;0px;"><em>&#160;Matthew 25&#58;35&#160;</em></p></blockquote><p>In December, our congregation (Zion St. John Lutheran) displayed what kind of Christians we wish to be. The amount of food we sent to the Franklin County food pantry was overwhelming. The Spirit of West Fork is a program that assists families in providing for their children at Christmas.&#160;</p><p>With the school's winter break lasting two full weeks and three weekends, there are a lot of meals that the school will not be providing to the children that rely on them. Our congregation sent over 300 items to the school to be distributed through that program. The Spirit of West Fork served 26 families this year, with a total of 70 children.&#160;</p><p>I don't know what the situations of those families are, and I don't need to. I am just thankful that as a congregation, we did not let these children go hungry through our own inaction.&#160;</p><p>God's peace,</p><p>Alison Northrop</p><p>Director of Youth &amp; Family Ministries<br> Zion St. John Lutheran, Sheffield, Iowa</p><p>&#160;</p><p><em>**Thanks to Alison and Pastor Joelle Colville-Hanson for permission to re-post.</em><br><br></p><p><a href="/blogs/Lists/ELCA%20World%20Hunger/NewForm.aspx?Source=http%3a//search-admin.elca.org/blogs/Lists/ELCA%2520World%2520Hunger/Browse.aspx%23InplviewHash0c1eef9b-303a-45ca-8f67-7d206737f1cc%3D&amp;RootFolder=#_ftnref1"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">[1]</span></a> &quot;Estimating the Risk of Food Stamp Use and Impoverishment During Childhood,&quot; <em>Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine</em>, 163(11), November 2009.</p></div>01/22/2015All the fabrics were beautiful, but only one was covered in feet! Rev. Robin Brownhttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/ELCAWorldHunger/641http://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/ELCAWorldHunger/641<div class="ExternalClassEB9974D987EC4542BAAD79536AC920BC"><p>​<span style="line-height&#58;1.6;">In November I was blessed to accompany <a href="http&#58;//www.elca.org/en/Our-Work/Global-Church/Global-Mission/Diakonia">ELCA Diakonia </a>staff members to Cameroon to meet with representatives of the Lutheran church in Cameroon, Denmark, France, Germany, and the United States, all in partnership with the Evangelical Lutheran Church&#160;of the&#160;Central African Republic as it plans and administers health, education and sustainability projects in the villages of Central African Republic.</span></p><p>&#160;</p><p>While there, we were asked to stand in front of the congregation after worship in the Garoua-Boulai hospital chapel ​on Friday morning and as we were all introduced (in French) the congregation said &quot;Ahhh&quot; when they heard it was my first trip to the continent. We were each presented with a gift of fabric, and apparently randomly - &#160;but in the Holy Spirit there are no coincidences – mine was covered in feet, all different shades of the gold, green and reddish brown of the native vegetation and earth. The group of partners grinned, acknowledging the significance of the feet, not only for my journey to Africa, but for my journey to ELCA World Hunger.<img alt="photo.JPG" src="http://search.elca.org/blogs/SiteAssets/Lists/ELCA%20World%20Hunger/Browse/photo.JPG" style="margin&#58;5px;vertical-align&#58;baseline;" /></p><p>&#160;</p><p>The journey began with my father, who was national sales manager for a Chicago-based restaurant supply company. I admired his quiet, gentle yet powerful success, and followed his footsteps into national account sales and marketing with a career apparel firm based in Deerfield, Illinois. Then in mid-life the Holy Spirit called me into the ministry of word and sacrament. I attended the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago&#160;and served congregations in Northeastern Iowa and Metropolitan Chicago Synods – until this fall when the Spirit moved once again. I began my position with ELCA World Hunger in October. &#160;My focus is on congregations&#160;and supporting them in their work, which in turn supports the domestic and international health, education and sustainability projects we do as ELCA World Hunger and Disaster Response. I'll be travelling throughout the United States to visit congregations two to three Sundays every month, learning from those who are so actively engaged, and helping to engage those who are not yet supporting this vital work of our church.</p><p>&#160;</p><p>It has been a joy to begin this work with such faithful, wise, compassionate colleagues – and I look forward to getting to know <em>you</em>! What a journey we are all on together, all our footsteps guided by the Holy Spirit as together we partner on this journey, accompanying God's people so that all have food, water, health care, and income.<img alt="10703687_10152749626110428_9056604201809338865_n.jpg" src="http://search.elca.org/blogs/SiteAssets/Lists/ELCA%20World%20Hunger/Browse/10703687_10152749626110428_9056604201809338865_n.jpg" style="margin&#58;5px;vertical-align&#58;text-top;" />&#160;</p><p><em>The Rev. Robin Brown is Associate Director of ELCA World Hunger and Disaster Appeal, Congregational Support. Before joining the ELCA World Hunger Team, Robin served as a parish pastor in suburban Illinois.&#160;</em></p></div>12/05/2014ELCA Pastor Tackles Minimum WageRyan P. Cumminghttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/ELCAWorldHunger/639http://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/ELCAWorldHunger/639<div class="ExternalClassF3ED9456F27849C58C865C479771C4CA"><p>​It is no secret that many workers in the fast food industry are not paid enough to support themselves and their families.&#160; <a href="http&#58;//laborcenter.berkeley.edu/pdf/2013/fast_food_poverty_wages.pdf">A recent report found that 52% of front-line fast-food workers receive some form of public assistance</a>, nearly twice the proportion of all workers who receive public assistance.<img alt="quote.JPG" src="http://search.elca.org/blogs/SiteAssets/Lists/ELCA%20World%20Hunger/Browse/quote.JPG" style="margin&#58;5px;vertical-align&#58;auto;float&#58;right;" /></p><p>It is also no secret that the pulpit often has been a platform for prophetic voices, from John Chrysostom decrying excessive wealth in the Fourth Century to Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., indicting segregation with the Word of God in the Twentieth Century.&#160; This year, Rev. Annie Edison-Albright of Redeemer Luther Church (ELCA) in Stevens Point, Wisconsin, brought her voice and faith to bear on the plight of workers struggling for a living wage.&#160; Her prophetic sermon was <a href="http&#58;//www.beatitudessociety.org/news/64-meet_our_2014_brave_preacher">recognized by The Beatitudes Society, which awarded Rev. Edison-Albright its 2014 J. Philip Swander Brave Preacher Award</a>!</p><p>Her poignant words call us to see our neighbors differently and to strive for justice in accordance with our baptismal vocation.&#160; You can read the full sermon <a href="http&#58;//origin.library.constantcontact.com/download/get/file/1114973702272-96/Edison-AlbrightBravePreacherSermon.pdf">here</a>, but below are some selections.</p><p>Rev. Edison-Albright reminds us what is at stake when workers are mistreated or ridiculed for their efforts&#58;</p><blockquote dir="ltr"><h3>&quot;What it comes down to is this&#58; the person you degrade, and dehumanize, and call names ... that person is Jesus.&#160; That person working at McDonald's is Jesus.&#160; And she's Jesus regardless of how smart she is, or what life choices she's made. The stone the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone. The person you reject is the cornerstone&#58; an essential, important, beloved child of God.&quot;</h3></blockquote><p>She declares to people of faith that our hope is well-founded and calls us to carry that hope into the world&#58;</p><blockquote dir="ltr" style="margin-right&#58;0px;"><h3>&quot;When it comes to big issues like poverty, it’s easy to get cynical, to get angry and judgmental, to be apathetic and try to ignore it, to get overwhelmed and feel like there’s nothing we can do. But if Jesus Christ was born, lived, died and rose from the dead, then anything is possible. And we truly are empowered to be God’s hands and feet and voices in the world.&quot;</h3></blockquote><p dir="ltr">Powerful words from a powerful preacher.&#160; Congratulations, Rev. Edison-Albright, and thank you!</p><p dir="ltr">Follow these links&#160;to learn more about the ELCA's commitment to a living wage&#58;</p><blockquote dir="ltr" style="margin-right&#58;0px;"><p dir="ltr">Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton's Letter to the US Senate (April 2014)&#58; <a href="http&#58;//download.elca.org/ELCA%20Resource%20Repository/Federal_Minimum_Wage_Letter_To_US_Senate.pdf">http&#58;//download.elca.org/ELCA%20Resource%20Repository/Federal_Minimum_Wage_Letter_To_US_Senate.pdf</a></p><p dir="ltr">Fact Sheet on Raising the Minimum Wage&#58; <a href="http&#58;//download.elca.org/ELCA%20Resource%20Repository/Raising_the_Federal_Minimum_Wage.pdf">http&#58;//download.elca.org/ELCA%20Resource%20Repository/Raising_the_Federal_Minimum_Wage.pdf</a></p><p dir="ltr">Hunger, Poverty and the Minimum Wage (ELCA World Hunger blog post)&#58; <a href="http&#58;//www.elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/ELCAWorldHunger/624">http&#58;//www.elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/ELCAWorldHunger/624</a></p><p dir="ltr">Social Statement on Sufficient, Sustainable Livelihood for All (1999)&#58; <a href="http&#58;//download.elca.org/ELCA%20Resource%20Repository/Economic_LifeSS.pdf">http&#58;//download.elca.org/ELCA%20Resource%20Repository/Economic_LifeSS.pdf</a></p></blockquote></div>11/21/2014Playing the "Hunger Game" in the United States: When the odds are NOT in your favorGina Tonnhttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/ELCAWorldHunger/640http://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/ELCAWorldHunger/640<div class="ExternalClass5EAC49F3F9364349815753DF54B20221"><p>​This weekend the &quot;beginning of the end&quot; of one of the most popular book and blockbuster film series of the decade hits the big screen. <em>The Hunger Games&#58; Mockingjay Part 1</em> will no doubt lure fans of Suzanne Collins' best-selling dystopian trilogy to movie theaters in droves across the country. People of all ages will be on the edge of their seats to see whether Katniss will prevail in the fight against the Capitol, how the love-story will unfold and, of course, whether or not the movie is true enough to the book to appease the most loyal fans. </p><p>While I must admit that I have read all three <em>Hunger Games </em>books, and did so in perhaps what was near-record time, my interest this week in anticipation of the movie release lies more along the lines of the connections we can draw between the perils of Panem – the fictitious setting of the novels - and the culture of food, class and justice in the United States. A quick Google search of &quot;The Hunger Games + real life&quot; reveals everything from conspiracy theories to blog rants about how the United States of America IS the Capitol. Although I don't take quite the extreme view, I do find several specific connections compelling&#58; </p><p><strong>1</strong><strong>)</strong> the rising role of food as a marker of social class in the U.S., and <strong>2)</strong> the outrageous excess and waste of our consumption we too often fail to recognize. </p><p>From the outset of the series, a vast food gap is depicted between the Capitol and the various districts of Panem. Vignettes of extreme gluttony and extravagance – Capitol residents are able to take a pill to make themselves throw-up some of their food in order to continue indulging in elaborate meals – are contrasted with desperation, as Katniss revels in the acquisition of a single burned loaf of bread. The food gap in the United States may not look the same as that portrayed in the <em>Hunger Games</em>, yet food is nonetheless becoming an increasingly prominent marker of social class.&#160;In the United States&#160;the food&#160;gap reveals itself more in the type of food consumed. The well-off continually seek out healthier, fancier, more ethically produced foods. Those struggling financially often have little access to choices other than the empty calories of inexpensive, processed foods. In September of this year, the Harvard School of Public Health released a study in the <em>Journal of the American Medical Association Internal Medicine</em><a><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">[1]</span></a> tracking the eating habits of just under 30,000 Americans between 1999 and 2010. The study revealed that over the last decade <strong>&quot;diet quality has improved among people of high socioeconomic status but deteriorated among those at the other end of the spectrum.&quot;</strong><a><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">[2]</span></a> </p><p>The paradox of this situation is that the push to improve overall health of Americans – from easing the obesity epidemic to lowering health care costs and incidence of diet-related diseases – seems to be a ubiquitous value. Yet, what is considered &quot;healthy&quot; is often only accessible to a relatively small portion of us. Healthy lifestyles are not solely determined by the foods we eat, but also by the ways we use our bodies, the air we breathe, the water we drink. Families and individuals who struggle to feed themselves healthy food because of financial limitations are unlikely to have the time or energy to exercise regularly.<a><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">[3]</span></a> All of these problems compound rising healthcare costs, which can be an added burden, especially for families with children. Furthermore, the widening food gap promises to have cyclical consequences; as people fail to afford healthy food, their health is susceptible to deterioration, which can then intensify and deepen income inequality, and so on.<a><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">[4]</span></a> It just goes to show, when you don't play fair, nobody wins – especially in the real life &quot;hunger game.&quot; </p><p>Food's role as a marker of class has been recognized and discussed for some time, as <em>The Washington Post</em> notes in their article about the 2014 Harvard study.<a><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">[5]</span></a> (See <a href="http&#58;//www.newsweek.com/what-food-says-about-class-america-69951"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">this piece</span></a> in Newsweek from 2010). <strong>So if the problem has been known for the last half a decade or more, why has the gap just kept on growing?</strong> It would be nice if the food gap could simply be closed by single solutions, like taxing junk food at increasingly greater rates or building a Whole Foods in every low-income neighborhood.<a><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">[6]</span></a> But the reality is that, like most things, this problem is multi-faceted. </p><p>What we eat is an incredibly personal part of our lives, and whether we recognize it or not each of us has a relationship with food. Research reported on by Policy Link and The Food Trust &quot;reveals that healthy eating is embedded in a complex set of relationships…[including] transportation options, quality and price of produce and other healthy food options, marketing of unhealthy food to children, and cultural appropriateness of neighborhood food choices.&quot;<a><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">[7]</span></a> The food gap is stretched by income inequality, education inequality, food access inequality and limited choice, differences in taste and tradition, and the fact that often times it seems like what is considered &quot;healthy&quot; just plain old keeps changing faster than most people can keep up with! While this cacophony of policy problems is inevitably frustrating, I like the takeaway of a response to the <em>Hunger Games' </em>themes of food and power written a few years ago. The author says&#58; <strong>&quot;Those of us with so much, we need to share.&quot;</strong><a><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">[8]</span></a> </p><p>And the thing is, we DO have plenty to share here in the United States. A report from the USDA released in February 2014 suggests that <strong>we waste approximately 1,249 calories of food per person, per day in the United States</strong>.<a><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">[9]</span></a> Much of this food waste is fruits, vegetables, and other healthy foods that &quot;spoil&quot; or are discarded due to irregular appearance. I find this startling. Perhaps the American food scene is more akin to that in the Capitol than I first suggested. The enormity of our waste is captured eloquently by National Geographic&#58; &quot;More than 30 percent of our food [in the United States], valued at $162 billion annually, isn't eaten. <strong>Pile all that food on a football field and the layers would form a putrefying casserole miles high</strong>.&quot;<a><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">[10]</span></a> So maybe that isn't so much eloquent as it is disturbing. The good news is that reducing food waste, along with encouraging healthy eating, is a trend people are tackling more and more (football pun intended). Globally, new storage methods are being introduced. Here in the US businesses are innovating to cut down on waste. Farmers and producers are innovating to lessen food loss.<a><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">[11]</span></a> </p><p>There is no doubt a long way to go in righting food distribution injustices of waste and inaccessibility. In all we do to eradicate food loss, we should always keep an eye to how we can help those who don't have enough food or enough <em>good </em>food, have more on their table. We should remember just how much abundance there really is in the world, and that there is always something – <strong>resources, knowledge, compassion </strong>– to share.</p><p>&#160;(<em>The Hunger Games&#58; Mockingjay Part 1 </em>isn't your only option for a food-centric movie-going experience this weekend.<em> Food Chains, </em>a documentary about a grassroots movement for farm workers' rights, will be released nationwide on November 21<sup>st</sup>. More information about the film and the movement at <a href="http&#58;//www.foodchainsfilm.com/"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">www.foodchainsfilm.com</span></a>.)</p><p><em></em>&#160;</p><p><a><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">[1]</span></a> <a href="http&#58;//www.hsph.harvard.edu/news/press-releases/u-s-diet-shows-modest-improvement-but-overall-remains-poor/"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">http&#58;//www.hsph.harvard.edu/news/press-releases/u-s-diet-shows-modest-improvement-but-overall-remains-poor/</span></a> </p><p><a><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">[2]</span></a> <a href="http&#58;//www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2014/09/access-to-real-food-as-privilege/379482/"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">http&#58;//www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2014/09/access-to-real-food-as-privilege/379482/</span></a> This article also notes the study's conclusion that diets in the US have improved overall when socioeconomic status is not accounted for, but one of the researchers notes that &quot;the growing gap between the rich and poor [is] 'disturbing.'… There can by no tenable 'overall improvement' when there is growing disparity around a point so critical to preventative medicine, or when there is deterioration among any such sizable marginalized population.&quot;&#160; </p><p><a><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">[3]</span></a> <a href="http&#58;//thinkprogress.org/health/2014/08/22/3474767/poor-people-use-diet-supplements-more/"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">http&#58;//thinkprogress.org/health/2014/08/22/3474767/poor-people-use-diet-supplements-more/</span></a> </p><p><a><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">[4]</span></a> <a href="http&#58;//www.cbsnews.com/news/rich-poor-dietary-gap-widening-in-u-s/"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">http&#58;//www.cbsnews.com/news/rich-poor-dietary-gap-widening-in-u-s/</span></a> </p><p><a><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">[5]</span></a> http&#58;//www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2014/09/02/americas-growing-food-inequality-problem/</p><p><a><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">[6]</span></a> Whether or not introducing health foods stores in low-income areas improves diet is debated. <a href="http&#58;//www.scirp.org/journal/PaperInformation.aspx?PaperID=42342"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">http&#58;//www.scirp.org/journal/PaperInformation.aspx?PaperID=42342</span></a> This study actually takes an analytical look at the impact of health foods stores in gentrifying neighborhoods and reveals that this would actually probably not work at all. Other research suggests there are myriad benefits to their introduction from diet quality to economic boon. Policy Link and The Food Trust state, &quot;Living closer to healthy food retail is among the factors associated with better eating habits and decreased risk for obesity and diet-related diseases.&quot; <a href="http&#58;//thefoodtrust.org/uploads/media_items/executive-summary-access-to-healthy-food-and-why-it-matters.original.pdf"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">http&#58;//thefoodtrust.org/uploads/media_items/executive-summary-access-to-healthy-food-and-why-it-matters.original.pdf</span></a> </p><p><a><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">[7]</span></a> Ibid.&#160; </p><p><a><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">[8]</span></a> <a href="http&#58;//www.agriview.com/news/regional/the-real-world-hunger-games-not-so-far-fetched/article_4a6bc506-a537-11e1-9244-0019bb2963f4.html"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">http&#58;//www.agriview.com/news/regional/the-real-world-hunger-games-not-so-far-fetched/article_4a6bc506-a537-11e1-9244-0019bb2963f4.html</span></a> </p><p><a><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">[9]</span></a> <a href="http&#58;//www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2014/02/27/283071610/u-s-lets-141-trillion-calories-of-food-go-to-waste-each-year"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">http&#58;//www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2014/02/27/283071610/u-s-lets-141-trillion-calories-of-food-go-to-waste-each-year</span></a> </p><p><a><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">[10]</span></a> <a href="http&#58;//news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2014/10/141013-food-waste-national-security-environment-science-ngfood/"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">http&#58;//news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2014/10/141013-food-waste-national-security-environment-science-ngfood/</span></a> </p><p><a><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">[11]</span></a> Ibid. </p><p>_______________________________________</p><p><em>Gina Tonn is a Program Assistant with ELCA World Hunger through the Lutheran Volunteer Corps. While an avid reader, she rarely makes an effort to see the latest films. &quot;I just can't sit still that long!&quot; she says, when pressed about the fact that it took her approximately a month to watch &quot;The Lord of the Rings&#58; The Fellowship of the Ring.&quot; She is still working up the wherewithal to start &quot;The Two Towers.&quot; </em></p></div>11/21/2014