We define hunger as the discomfort or weakness caused by lack of sufficient nourishment. Food insecurity, then, is inconsistent access to adequate food, due to lack of money or other resources. According to the World Health Organization, the three pillars of food security are: availability, meaning consistent availability in sufficient quantities; access, or the means to acquire this food; and appropriate use, encompassing knowledge, water, and sanitation1. What’s worse, children who live with food insecurity experience stress that is harmful to their growing brains. See The Elfenworks Foundation’s Breathing Butterfly stress-busting project for research details on stress as it affects kids in poverty. Jesus’ mandate is clear: “Feed my Sheep.”
Six Ways to “feed my sheep.”
- Give a sermon on Food Waste Weekend.
- Open a pantry.
- Have a community garden.
- Share the Breathing Butterfly with kids to help reduce stress from hunger
- Hold classes to teach nutrition skills
Have food drives regularly.
A Few Ripplemakers in Feeding the Hungry
The following three social entrepreneurs have been singled out for their pioneering work in health and mental health, and have been honored by The Elfenworks Foundation with an In Harmony With Hope award:
- Will Allen, Founder of GrowingPower.org, has spent the past two decades crusading to bring healthy, low-cost, sustainable food to the food deserts of our nation’s urban centers through his organization, Growing Power. From a 2.5-acre farm located in the heart of Milwaukee, Allen is feeding the city’s poor, educating a nation about urban farming, and mitigating racism by empowering the minority communities he serves. His farming model incorporates innovative cultivation and distribution network design, including aquaculture, vermiculture, horticulture composting, soil reclamation, food distribution, and beekeeping. Growing Power also runs collaborative projects, teen internships and training projects, which engage city youth in producing healthy foods for their communities.
- Robert Egger, Founder of V3 & DCCentralKitchen.org and now LAKitchen, has turned the food bank model on its head. Instead of providing a simple handout, Egger used food as a vehicle for change: clients became employed cooks through the Kitchen’s Culinary Jobs Training Program; college students learn about service and business in the Campus Kitchen Project; and 4,500 of Washington, DC’s hungry are fed as the Kitchen recycles more than one ton of food every day. The Kitchen additionally provides street outreach and nutrition education for at-risk kids. Egger also galvanizes the nonprofit industry through country-wide talks, pushing for reform and a place on the national stage.
- Gary Oppenheimer, Founder of AmpleHarvest.org, conceived of a nationwide campaign to enable America’s 40+ million home gardeners who grow food to be able to easily share some of their harvest with local food pantries, in 2009. At its core it’s a technology solution that connects, educates and empowers home gardeners and local food pantries. Food pantries are often tiny operations hidden from view with little virtual presence. By enrolling with AmpleHarvest.org, they become visible to home gardeners. In just three years, more than 5,400 pantries have been enrolled on AmpleHarvest.org and more than 21 million pounds of fresh produce has been delivered to enrolled pantries. The simple but effective solution moves information as much as it moves healthy fruits and vegetables to the 50 million Americans who don’t always know where they’re going to get their next meal.
The above innovators would welcome support and encouragement. Their websites may include current needs, and you can also reach out to them and ask about partnership opportunities. No doubt they’d be happy for the help.
1Source: http://www.who.int/trade/glossary/story028/en, online and accessed March 26, 2014.