From the Worldwide Faith News archives

Potato drop gives delegates hands-on way to fight hunger

From "NewsDesk" <NewsDesk@UMCOM.ORG>
Date Fri, 30 Apr 2004 14:01:01 -0500

April 29, 2004	 GC04-023

By Kim Riemland*

PITTSBURGH (UMNS) - United Methodists who are meeting at General Conference
know that just outside the walls of the convention center live some of the
very issues they are trying to tackle: homelessness, hunger and hopelessness.

On April 29, bishops and delegates used their morning break to step outside
their meetings and do something about those issues.

They stood shoulder to shoulder in the convention center's loading zone and
transferred 50-pound bags of potatoes from a tractor-trailer to a Greater
Pittsburgh Community Food Bank truck. The shipment is expected to help feed
120,000 Pittsburgh-area residents. 

The excess and slightly flawed potatoes were not considered "perfect enough"
to sell in stores, but the Society of St. Andrew and the Commission on United
Methodist Men arranged to have H. Smith Packing in Maine ship the potatoes to
Pittsburgh, instead of throw them away. Other United Methodists participating
in General Conference in Pittsburgh were asked to fast for one meal and
donate money to help cover the shipping cost of the potatoes.

Bishop Donald Ott of Wisconsin was among those who helped transfer the heavy
bags. Ott, who works on the Bishops' Initiative on Children and Poverty, says
it's important to address the issue of hunger with "hands and heads." He
believes United Methodists should participate in the direct service of
feeding the hungry, as well as exploring systemic issues, such as legislation
that affects poverty in America. He wants his fellow bishops - and the whole
church - to put on "a new set of glasses."

"Glasses that, when you put them on, enable you to see the poor and the
marginalized and the children who always seem to get the short stick," Ott

The Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank serves 350 member agencies in the
Pittsburgh area. Like most food banks across the country, it has seen the
need for food assistance rise, while donations drop. 

"It's a constant struggle. We're down to about a month's supply, and that
makes us a little nervous," said Anne Hawkins, chief development officer of
the food bank. 

The potato donation is appreciated, she said.

The Society of St. Andrew is a nationwide, ecumenical, nonprofit organization
that salvages fresh produce that might otherwise be wasted and distributes it
to agencies that feed the hungry. The Society of St. Andrew and the
Commission on United Methodist Men have partnered in creating the Hunger
Relief Advocate network, which has delivered more than 5 million pounds of
food to the nation's poor. 

In every city where a General Conference is held, United Methodists schedule
a way to serve the people of the host city. The conference is the
denomination's top legislative assembly, meeting every four years. 

# # #

*Riemland is a freelance producer and correspondent for United Methodist News

News media contact: (412) 325-6080 during General Conference, April 27-May 7.
After May 10: (615) 742-5470. 


United Methodist News Service
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