The Merriam-Webster online dictionary defines hunger as "a weakened condition brought about by prolonged lack of food." Unfortunately, that statement is the reality of about one billion people around the world, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. The recent global financial crisis alone caused 100 million people to experience hunger due to high unemployment rates adding to the rise of food prices.
Forty-nine million people, including 17 million children, experienced food shortages in 2008. Out of the 49 million hungry individuals, one in three single mothers had troubles financing food. The majority of these people must rely on soup kitchens and homeless shelters for their daily meals or starve. One of these hot meal programs is volunteer-run Loaves and Fishes, operated through St. Stephen and the Incarnation Episcopal Church and located in the Mount Pleasant/Columbia Heights section of Washington, DC.
My relationship with Loaves and Fishes began in September 2009 when I was looking for a place to be civically engaged. I was fortunate to have received an e-mail from The Washington Center that offered a selected few volunteering positions for a Saturday food distribution at St. Stephen's. Even though I knew St. Stephen's was more than an hour train ride away from Rockville, Maryland, I was elated to jump on that wagon of opportunity to help.
Ever since then, two other interns and I go to St. Stephen's religiously on the weekends to help cook, serve, and then clean up after the guests finish their meals. The three of us then took our obligations to a new level by regularly going to a nearby farmer's market at its closing time and collect donated bread, damaged fresh fruits and vegetables. The food collected on Saturdays is then added to the supply the church has so more people could be fed during the Sunday morning hot meal program.
Anyway, a lot of people dream of saving the world as a child..but as they grow older, that dream often fades away. Saving the world doesn't mean you have to become the head of something like the United Nations...it can be as simple as volunteering in a community soup kitchen to address the hunger our brothers and sisters experience daily.
Until Next Time,