Food Security Is Everyone's Issue

Seven-year old Habiba Hassan Nur, who with her family recently arrived from Somalia, cooks a meal of beans in a new extension of the Dadaab camp in northeastern Kenya. Already the world's world's largest refugee settlement, Dadaab has swelled in recent weeks with tens of thousands of recent arrivals fleeing drought in Somalia. The Lutheran World Federation, a member of the ACT Alliance, is manager of the camp, and in July opened this new extension to begin housing the newest refugees. Photo: ACT Alliance

Food security means that people have access to food that is both affordable and nutritious and do not live in hunger or fear of starvation.

For the last several days, I’ve been attending the Foods Resource Bank Annual Meeting in Des Moines, IA. Part family reunion, part seminar, the FRB Annual Meeting is one of my favorite meetings. For one, it attracts an incredibly diverse array of people: our ecumenical partners like Church World Service; farmers and other folks who support our local growing projects and whose hard work and imagination provide funding for food security projects all over the world; and international guests who have great firsthand stories to share about their work addressing hunger in places like Bolivia, Zambia, and Sierra Leone.

Of all of the things that were helpful about this meeting, there were two things that struck me about it. For one--despite the scant coverage it has received in the media--everyone wanted to talk about the famine in the Horn of Africa. Many of us gathered, whether ecumenical partners, staff, or growing project team member, have been in this region, fallen in love with it, and are deeply—deeply—troubled by this famine and its impact on people. As we have reported over the last several weeks, people from Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia are facing significant needs: lack of food, lack of water, and an increasingly desperate refugee situation as people search for both. Presenters alluded to the famine in panel discussions, participants prayed for the displaced and hungry as we gathered for meals, and in informal discussions, we all discussed the ways our organizations were responding—and how we might work together to do even more.

Second, I was thrilled by all of the young people I saw at the meeting. Youth who managed their own growing project. Youth excited about making a difference in the world, talking about how we all have a responsibility to work alongside food insecure communities. A teenager who traveled with her dad to Bolivia to see firsthand the agricultural development work she had heard about in church. Her voice, her experience, and her hope for the world were truly inspiring.

Then, as I was taking a quick moment to check my email and the Week of Compassion Facebook page, I noticed that Nathan Hill, Minister of Church Life at East Dallas Christian Church, had written a new blog entry focusing on the famine and had even taken his youth group on a mission trip where they learned about hunger-related issues, sustainable development, and how the systems we rely on to deliver food offer incredible abundance—but are also incredibly fragile.

When I asked Nathan to reflect upon what his youth group experienced, he wrote:

Our youth got a firsthand look at the disparities in different parts of the world and how we are called as people of faith to make good choices for our bodies and for our neighbors. Already, this knowledge is opening up possibilities of ministry and connections in our community, like finding a local beekeeping project in another part of Dallas, feeling more personally connected to famine in the Horn of Africa, and inviting the church to do away with Styrofoam products. In addressing hunger in such a real way, the stories of Jesus feeding the hungry crowds became real to them.
Encouraging his youth to explore ways they can build on their newfound passion for working for a world where everyone has access to sufficient, nutritious food, Nathan asked them—as well as everyone else who reads his blog or visits his Facebook page—to consider partnering with Week of Compassion to respond to the famine in East Africa.

If you, like those of us who gathered in Des Moines or the youth of East Dallas Christian Church, are concerned about the people of East Africa, you, too, can join our movement of Courageous Compassion.

The people of East Africa are our neighbors. Right now, our neighbors need emergency food and other famine-related help. The regions in which they live will also require careful responses that help communities develop and sustain themselves. We, through our network of committed partners, can contribute to both. This is our work.

Let’s get to it.

- Brandon

This Week's Responses

Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance
Swaziland, drought relief

Development and Long-Term Recovery
DR Congo, women's income generation