From the Worldwide Faith News archives

World Food Day Focuses on Long-term

Date 04 May 1996 20:51:36


95361          World Food Day Focuses on Long-term  
                    Solutions to World Hunger 
                          by Alexa Smith 
LOUISVILLE, Ky.--When Broadway Presbyterian Church in New York City began a 
soup kitchen in 1981, no one had any idea it would burgeon into a small 
community where groups of 25 people might transform their collective 
self-image from "homeless" to "working people." 
     "The way we view it, it's one life at a time," says Christopher Fay, 
executive director of Broadway Community, Inc., a mission that has evolved 
into a job training program -- where groups of at least 15 previously 
homeless people run the kitchen and other emergency services, learning how 
to keep accounts and how to run a restaurant as well as getting training in 
other marketable skills, such as maintenance, security work or even clock 
     This kind of long-range solution to hunger is what the Rev. Gary Cook, 
director of the Presbyterian Hunger Program (PHP), is pushing as part of 
the denomination's Oct. 15 observance of World Food Day, which is Oct. 16. 
     "As wonderful as it is, feeding people solves only the short-term 
problem. ... We [also] need to be looking for longer-term solutions," said 
Cook. "Global hunger ... is a problem which is going to be with us for 
decades, and it's an important, major mission focus as we're nearing the 
end of the 20th century." 
     The Cincinnati General Assembly proposed Oct. 15 as the day to honor 
the thousands of Presbyterian congregations involved in hunger ministries 
and to address hunger needs through church contributions to the One Great 
Hour of Sharing offering, which provides major funding to the PHP.  The 
Oct. 15 observance is also designed to encourage presbyteries to give 
focused attention to hunger and poverty within their bounds and 
Presbyterians to be active participants in the public debate over the 
proper role of government in responding to the needs of poor and hungry 
people, remembering Jesus' teaching that it is the nations who will be 
judged on how they treat " ... the least of these, ..." who are hungry and 
     "There's a major debate going on in this country about the proper role 
of government in meeting the needs of poor and hungry people," said Cook, 
adding that diverting hunger monies through states in the form of block 
grants is guaranteed to cut the amount of money available.  "And 
Presbyterians are strangely silent." 
     Cook said the Presbyterian Church has long supported full funding of 
the Special Supplemental Food Program for Women and Children (WIC), Child 
Care Food Program, School Breakfast Program, Special Milk Program and the 
School Lunch Program.   The 207th General Assembly reaffirmed those 
commitments.  The Assembly also reaffirmed the 201st General Assembly's 
endorsement of international agreements that provide debt relief to Third 
World countries as a way to free up additional funds to alleviate hunger 
and poverty. 
     "[We] need to be part of this debate.  Don't leave it to the Christian 
Coalition to define what the religious position is," Cook said, commenting 
on the Assembly's action. "Funding for these programs is still unclear, 
awaiting final House/Senate conference action.  But it is clear that the 
programs will be cut substantially." 
     Despite the current political debate, Cook said, the underlying 
reality is that the earth produces sufficient resources to feed everyone. 
"The rededication we're looking for in the church is a commitment to work 
for the equitable sharing of those resources," he told the Presbyterian 
News Service. 
     Worship resources and background information about hunger issues may 
be obtained from the Presbyterian Hunger Program at (800) 334-0434. 
     Though acknowledging that the evolution of the program of Broadway 
Community, Inc., has not always been easy, Fay said that enough people 
within the congregation have stayed involved and enabled its growth.  By 
networking with other ecumenical bodies in New York City, the program is 
able to support its participants with drug counseling, medicine, shelter 
and AIDS programming. 
     "We're in New York City, where the problem is smack in front of you," 
said Fay.  "... You walk by homeless people, but church members are able to 
say: 'I am part of a community that's making a real effort.'" 

For more information contact Presbyterian News Service
  Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Louisville, KY 40202
  phone 502-569-5504            fax 502-569-8073  
  E-mail   Web page: 


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