From the Worldwide Faith News archives www.wfn.org
World Food Day Focuses on Long-term
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
"[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
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 PCUSA.NEWS@pcusa.org Web page: http://www.pcusa.org
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