The Department of Agriculture has dropped the word “hunger” from its annual report. Now 35 million Americans suffer instead from “low food security.”
Such a euphemism is almost Orwellian. There are still 10.8 million who suffer from very low food security, missing at least one meal a week.
Some years ago, W. Stanley Mooneyham wrote a book titled What Do You Say to a Hungry World?
Mooneyham was then president of World Vision International. Before joining World Vision he was special assistant to evangelist Billy Graham.
In the early 1970s he led a relief convoy into <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags” />Cambodia. In 1978 he helped persuade governments to assist Vietnamese boat people by searching the South China Sea by ship, saving hundreds who had fled Vietnam. I visited with him in Singapore and Hong Kong, before and after these experiences, and sensed his burden for the tragedy of Vietnam and neighboring countries.
When I was director of missions at San Antonio’s TrinityBaptistChurch, I invited him to share his vision for a hungry and dying world. He opened our eyes to the truth, just as his book a year later did for many others.
Mooneyham refutes two myths about hunger and food supply. One myth is that it is impossible to produce enough food to feed the present world population, much less any increase.
He calls this a convenient myth, because it allows us to do nothing and still have a clear conscience. It is not going to be easy, but it is not impossible. “A British agronomist says that on existing diets worldwide the world could feed about 40 billion people–nearly 10 times the present population,” he wrote in 1979, “if it really put its mind to it.”
The second myth about feeding the world is, “The starving masses are going to revolt!” <?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office” />
“Don’t you believe it,” Mooneyham contends. “They should–but they won’t. They can’t. How do you mount a revolution when you are too weak to get off your cot?”
Former Howard Payne graduate and professor S. L. Harris told me of a small but important way to help feed the hungry. At first I was skeptical, but after visiting the Web site I became convinced. It is a small thing, but with enough people clicking on it, it no longer remains a small thing.
Here is what you do: Get on the Internet: www.thehungersite.com. It is raises money for charities through sponsors who buy ads on the site. By visiting you can help provide food for the hungry, without spending a dime. Every little bit helps.
Because we can’t do everything or big things is no excuse from doing something.
We all wish we knew what to say to a hungry world, but too often we do not wish it strong enough to do something. We can give to the local food banks and distribute meals to the poor elderly.
Handouts alone are not enough. Give a man a fish and he has a meal. Teach him to fish and he has a life.
One tragic development in America has been big corporations pushing foodstuffs lacking in nutrition. More nourishing foods cost more than the working poor can afford, so they get poorer and fatter on fast foods.
We can care. We can pray. But our prayers need hands and feet and a will to change the situation.
Our conscience can tell us what to say to our hungry–sorry, our “low food security”–neighbors.
Britt Towery, a retired Baptist missionary, writes opinions the Brownsville Bulletin in Brownsville, Texas.