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‘I was hungry and you gave me food’

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The next time you are hungry, imagine that instead of going into your kitchen and reaching for various foods to prepare a meal for you and your family, that there is no food to reach for, no vegetables to pick from in your garden, and that you have no money to buy food for you and your hungry children.

For millions of people in many countries, having no food is not something to imagine, it is a suffering reality every day.

As I write, it is World Food Day (Oct. 16), and according to the World Food Program report titled “A Global Food Crisis – 2022: A Year of Unprecedented Hunger,” 828 million people are currently suffering from hunger. And the number of fellow human beings facing life-threatening acute food insecurity has sharply increased from 135 million to 345 million people since 2019. And the hungriest of the hungry are the 50 million people in 45 countries who are staring famine in the face.

There are four deadly combined factors, according to the WFP, which are driving much of the world to be hungrier than ever:

  • Conflict – war and violence are the most pressing reasons people are hungry.
  • Climate Change – is causing unprecedented serious weather events like floods, droughts, wildfires and hurricanes.
  • Covid – has killed millions of people throughout the world and continues to destroy lives in mostly poor nations.
  • Costs – in operating world food feeding programs are at an all-time high (see https://www.wfp.org/global-hunger-crisis).

Thus, it should be obvious to attentive and caring people, governments and corporations that new efforts to curb and finally end the production and selling of arms must finally become a high priority goal (see https://bit.ly/3Sikke7). And that comprehensive global conflict resolution strategies must replace war, war preparations, and internal conflicts.

The money saved from ending war preparations, armed conflicts, and war itself could then be used to completely end global hunger and poverty. For as the world’s Catholic bishops declared at Vatican Council II, “While extravagant sums are being spent for the furnishing of ever new weapons, an adequate remedy cannot be provided for the multiple miseries afflicting the whole modern world. … Therefore, we say it again: ‘the arms race is an utterly treacherous trap for humanity, and one which ensnares the poor to an intolerable degree.’”

Climate change, with its increased droughts, floods, heat stress, and extreme weather events, is projected to have an increasingly negative affect on food production, thus threatening countless more people with hunger and starvation (see: https://bit.ly/3z36K7L).

Therefore, it is of paramount importance that governments around the world sharply increase money for renewable energy and climate change adaptation – especially for the most economically depressed nations. The international “Green Climate Fund” is one excellent vehicle to help here. However, the U.S. has only partly honored its funding commitment (see: https://bit.ly/3VHwal3).

According to the ecumenical poverty-focused organization Bread for the World, the “Global Food Security Act” (S. 4649) is a proven project that helps poorer nations develop inclusive and sustainable agriculture-led economic growth (see: https://bit.ly/3yXAP8A) American readers, please urge your two U.S. senators and representative to vote for this life-saving bill (Capitol switchboard number: 202-224-3121).

Please kindly consider sharing your bread with desperately hungry brothers and sisters by making a donation to Catholic Relief Services (see: https://www.crs.org/ways-to-give).

In his recent message for World Food Day, Pope Francis challenged us to “See others as our brothers and sisters, as members who make up our own human family, and whose sufferings and needs affect us all.” And he added that “We are called to redirect our gaze towards the essential, towards what has been given to us freely, focusing our work on caring for others and for creation” (see: https://bit.ly/3VS9nmK).

When the Lord Jesus judges us, let us hopefully make sure by our loving care for the hungry now, that we hear him say, “I was hungry and you gave me food.”

Tony Magliano is an internationally syndicated Catholic social justice and peace columnist. He is available to speak at diocesan or parish gatherings. Tony can be reached at tmag6@comcast.net.

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