By / Nov 3

Millions of people are living in households with food insecurity in the United States, including 3 million children, according to a report released this week by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). One of the factors leading to this lack of food for many families is the reality of food deserts. It’s important that Christians become aware of our neighbors who are vulnerable in this way so that we can help meet their tangible needs in the name of Jesus.

Food insecurity is defined at a household level as the lack of adequate food for any household member due to financial constraints​​. It occurs when people do not have sufficient access to nutritious and affordable food. According to data from the USDA, in 2022, 12.8% (17.0 million households) were food insecure. Food-insecure households (those with low and very low food security) had difficulty at some time during the year providing enough food for all their members because of a lack of resources. 

In 2022, 5.1% of U.S. households (6.8 million households) had very low food security. In this more severe range of food insecurity, the food intake of some household members was reduced, and normal eating patterns were disrupted at times during the year because of limited resources. Children were food insecure at times during 2022 in 8.8% of U.S. households with children (3.3 million households), and suffered instances of very low food security in 1.0% of households with children (381,000 households).

These households with very low food security among children reported that children were hungry, skipped a meal, or did not eat for a whole day because there was not enough money for food. The lack of access to nutritious food is associated with an increased risk of multiple chronic health conditions such as diabetes, obesity, heart disease, mental health disorders, and other chronic diseases.

Where the problem is most prevalent

Within the U.S., the prevalence of food insecurity varies considerably by state. In addition to household-level characteristics such as income, employment, and household structure, the prevalence of food insecurity is also affected by state-level characteristics such as average wages, cost of housing, and unemployment. 

Estimates for the three-year period of 2020–22 are that the prevalence of food insecurity was:

  • higher than the national average in six states (Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and Texas);
  • lower than the national average in 17 states (California, Colorado, Hawaii, Iowa, Massachusetts, Maryland, Minnesota, North Dakota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Virginia, Vermont, Washington, and Wisconsin);
  • and in the remaining 27 states and the District of Columbia, differences from the national average were not statistically significant. 

The prevalence of very low food security was:

  • higher than the national average in eight states (Arkansas, Indiana, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, Mississippi, South Carolina, and Texas);
  • lower than the national average in 13 states (California, Colorado, Hawaii, Iowa, Massachusetts, Maryland, Minnesota, North Dakota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington);
  • and not significantly different from the national average in 29 states and the District of Columbia.

One of the contributing factors to food insecurity is the existence of food deserts. The USDA defines food deserts in urban areas as locations where people live more than one mile from a supermarket, and in rural areas, where they live more than 10 miles from a grocery store. These areas often lack full-service grocery stores, supermarkets, and farmers’ markets, making it challenging for residents to obtain nutritious food. Food deserts are more common in:

  • inner-cities,
  • low-income households,
  • female-headed households,
  • rural communities,
  • and communities of color. 

A related concept is a food mirage, which describes a geographic area where individuals and communities live in close proximity to grocery stores or supermarkets offering a seemingly vast array of healthy food choices, but many individuals cannot afford these foods. Within these areas, individuals must travel increased distances to find more budget-friendly healthful foods.

How Christians can help

There are several ways Christians and churches can help with this problem.

Advocacy and awareness: Christians can use our platforms, such as church ministries, social media, and community organizations, to raise awareness about the issues of food insecurity and food deserts. By advocating for policy changes, supporting local initiatives, and sharing stories of those affected, we can make others aware of an issue that God is concerned about (Isa. 58:6–7)

Support local food banks and pantries: Many churches already have food banks or pantries that provide assistance to those in need. We can contribute by donating food, volunteering our time, or organizing food drives to ensure that these resources are available to vulnerable communities.

Community gardens and farmers’ markets: Christians can support the establishment of community gardens and farmers’ markets in food deserts. These initiatives can provide access to fresh, locally grown produce and create opportunities for education and community building.

Partnerships with nonprofit organizations: Christians and churches can collaborate with nonprofit organizations that focus on addressing food insecurity and food deserts. By combining resources, expertise, and networks, these partnerships can have a more significant impact on the communities they serve. Southern Baptists have an organized effort through Send Relief called Global Hunger Relief.

Education and empowerment: Christians can support initiatives that provide education on nutrition, cooking, and budgeting skills to individuals and families facing food insecurity. By empowering people to make healthier choices and manage their resources effectively, we can work toward long-term solutions.

The issue of food insecurity and food deserts in the U.S. is a complex one, intertwined with broader societal and economic issues. However, by embodying the teachings of Christ and engaging in concerted, community-driven efforts, Christians can play a part in alleviating these pressing issues, reflecting the broader Christian ethos of service, compassion, and justice, and making way for the life-changing news of the gospel.

By / Aug 25

In 1993, a photojournalist took a photo that has become iconic and controversial. Titled “The vulture and the little girl,” it shows a young, starving, small girl being stalked by a vulture preparing for her to die. In the context of the 1993 Sudanese famine, the image was instantly iconic, with The New York Times running the image on their coverage. However, it became controversial because of the public’s question: “Did she survive? Did you help her get to the food station?” The photographer did not (journalists were encouraged not to interact with their subjects at the time to avoid spreading disease), and instead was careful to not scare the bird away before he got his shot. He did scare the bird away after the picture, but still left the weak girl on the ground instead of taking her to the food station where her parents were attempting to get food. 

“Did you help her?”

The image is a stark reminder of the incredibly tragic results of famine and hunger. However, it is also a reminder of the ability of humans to turn our eyes away from the tragic, or place a filter between ourselves and the world around us. At its most basic level, the public’s question is the same one that we all should be asking: “Did you help her?” In an age where we are surrounded by so much tragedy and news of devastations across the world, there is an understandable need to prioritize what we can do. However, when faced with such a clear instance of need and scarcity, the response should be to help. The photographer should have helped her. Yet, it was easier to turn away once his job—chronicling the devastation rather than responding to it—was complete. 

The tendency to turn away is one that we all know well. It’s avoiding the eyes of the homeless individual panhandling on the corner at the stop sign. It’s quickly scrolling past the Facebook post detailing hardship. It’s the discomfort that comes from hearing a child tell about their family’s home life, and learning how they have struggled since the economic downturn. 

We don’t like that discomfort. It makes us feel like we are guilty for what we do have. So we turn our eyes away and choose to ignore it. That’s someone else’s problem. Not ours. We don’t have time to stop and help. So we push down the discomfort and tell ourselves that we are doing our job, and it’s someone else’s responsibility, just like the photographer who walked away as soon as he had taken a picture that would win him a Pulitzer.

More tragic than ignoring the problem is the way that we tend to relegate it to something happening somewhere else. To read accounts of the image, the journalist saw everything through the lens of his camera. It was a mediated world that he inhabited. On one level, this is expected for a journalist who covers some of the worst situations around the globe (he had spent years covering violence and civil war in Africa). A level of distance is to be expected.

Yet, the distance required to leave a starving girl on the ground after a vulture was just stalking her requires turning off a piece of our humanity. It’s the piece that causes people to run into flames to save a child they don’t know. Or the way that strangers will rally around a struggling family to provide for them. We recognize that this person holds inestimable worth and dignity, and we should treat them accordingly.  We don’t leave them in the dirt. 

But when life is mediated through a camera lens (or for most of us a smartphone), it is easy to see not people but images. We don’t mean to dehumanize others. But when you experience people through a filter, then it becomes easier to also push every other emotion or desire through the same filter. We start to think that reports of tragedies are just numbers and normal realities, rather than evils we must resist with every fiber of our being, the lingering effects of a broken world crying out for redemption. When we assume that mindset, then it becomes easier to turn that blind eye. One death may be a tragedy, and a million a statistic (as is often cynically claimed), but when news of that death comes to us in the same way that we watch mindless cat videos, then it is just one more piece of information for us to consume for a moment and then discard for the next factoid to cross our timeline. 

Hunger and poverty are areas that are especially difficult for Americans to truly understand, and thus make us even more likely to turn away. I may not like what‘s in my fridge, but there is always something there. We may see poverty around us, but often it is confined to a place, not widespread. And so we turn away because we don’t want to reckon with the discomfort that we feel. However, for Christians this is not an option. Like the Samaritan who cared for the dying man on the road, and Jesus’ reminder that when we served the least of these we served him, we do not have the option to turn our eyes away from the tragedy around us. 

Practically, this means that we must be looking for those opportunities around us to serve the world. Unless you are a tech billionaire or an expert in public policy, then it is unlikely you will be able to solve hunger and poverty. However, you can search for ways to serve the individuals around you. This might mean volunteering at homeless shelters and providing donations. But ideally it goes beyond simple incidental moments and instead is a life characterized by attention to the problem. We should not confine our love of neighbor to the holidays or special emphasis days, but rather see the need around us every moment. Yes, we can try to solve the immediate problem, but we must also look at how we might develop a long-term relationship that has the potential to help an individual with their ongoing hunger or economic situation. 

In a social media age, we need to guard against issues like hunger becoming just a fact that we know because of our screens and constant stream of information. The statistics and data we hear in reports are snapshots of the real-life experience of those suffering. We can’t let our heart be turned off so that we don’t have to be incovenienced. Those suffering don’t have that luxury, and we shouldn’t either. Instead of turning our eyes away in the face of tragedy, let us be the people who work tirelessly to see that suffering eradicated in Jesus’ name. 

By / Aug 24

The last few years have witnessed world-changing events that have disrupted supply chains and limited access to food for many people. Southern Baptists will, on Aug. 28, recognize Global Hunger Sunday to raise support for those in need.

A 2021 report released by agencies associated with the United Nations stated that 2.3 billion people faced moderate to severe challenges to obtaining enough food to eat, with the total population facing severe insecurity climbing to an estimated 924 million.

“Over the last couple of years, we’ve seen world events impact food supplies. First, it was the COVID pandemic, then the war in Ukraine hindered access to their wheat harvest,” said Bryant Wright, president of Send Relief, the compassion ministry arm of Southern Baptists.

According to a report from NPR, Ukraine and Russia, together, account for a third of the world’s wheat and barley exports while Russia and Belarus are numbers two and three on the world’s list of producers of a key ingredient for fertilizer.

“A drought in the midwestern United States harmed the wheat harvest here. We expect the need to be so great that many will face starvation, especially in impoverished areas,” said Wright. “Let’s show the love of Jesus by meeting needs physically and spiritually with the Gospel.”

As of July 2022, an estimated 345 million people are near the point of starvation, a 25% increase from the beginning of the year before Russia invaded Ukraine. Conflict, displacement, and global destabilization have led the malnourished population to grow for the sixth consecutive year.

What is Global Hunger Relief? 

For 44 years, Southern Baptists have been raising funds to combat hunger around the globe. Originally started in 1978 as the World Hunger Fund, Global Hunger Relief is dedicated to the fight to minimize world hunger and to sharing the gospel of Christ.

Global Hunger Sunday is a great opportunity for churches to promote an offering to support Global Hunger Relief. Send Relief helps to promote and distribute the offering each year.

“Southern Baptist Christians have been concerned about global hunger needs for several decades now,” said Wright. “That concern has driven them to start soup kitchens and food pantries in their local communities. It has also driven them to give to funds like Global Hunger Relief, which Send Relief helps to administer to meet hunger needs around the world.”

Send Relief focuses on five key areas: strengthen communities, care for refugees, protect children and families, fight human trafficking, and respond to crisis. The ministry sets up specific funds for these focus areas, creates funds for specific projects, and receives general donations to support compassion ministry efforts around the world.

Generosity toward Global Hunger Relief helps respond to crisis by meeting hunger-related needs in various ways. When famine or natural disaster strikes, gifts to Global Hunger Relief provide resources for missionaries and other ministry partners to give food during those times of crisis.

Efforts also include projects that have a longer-term focus that offer sustainable solutions designed to strengthen communities by easing chronic hunger. Missionaries and ministry partners will provide job skills training, livestock and seed distribution, clean water, home reconstruction, as well as medical care.

In 2021, Southern Baptists gave $3.5 million through Global Hunger Relief, and 100% of those gifts go toward meeting hunger needs with 20% going to needs in North America and 80 going toward international hunger needs.

While Southern Baptists will officially recognize Global Hunger Sunday this coming weekend, Southern Baptist ministry partners are welcome to collect and submit the offering throughout the year.

To learn more about Global Hunger Relief, visit globalhungerrelief.org, and for resources designed to help churches recognize Global Hunger Sunday, visit here.

By / Oct 7

What is your immediate reaction when you see something that is broken? When I see something broken, I want to fix it — whether it’s a household object, a relationship, or a community. I want to jump in and start solving the problem. It’s like that broken thing was just waiting for me to come in and save the day. 

But what if the “broken” thing I see isn’t actually broken? Or what if I’m not the one to fix it? 

These are the kinds of questions that Jeff Palmer forces us to ask ourselves in his book So You Want to Dig a Well in Africa?: What You and Your Church Need to Know About Mercy-oriented Missions Palmer has served in international missions and development work for more than 30 years. During that time, he has used his background in agriculture to help people in over 60 countries with things like food security, clean water and improved health. His book, though, is not really about digging wells, and it’s not really about Africa. Rather, it’s about how Christians (and the Church) approach mercy-oriented missions.

The world is full of needy people

The world has always been full of needy people, and it always will be until the new heaven and the new earth (Rev. 21:1). In this digital age in particular, we feel the weight of the neediness of the world more than ever before.

We see Facebook ads telling us that every child deserves a pair of shoes, so we give. We hear stories of families in need around the world, and we give. And the more we are exposed to a world in need, the more resources we pour into overseas projects.

The average church member has more opportunities now to experience cross-cultural missions and see others’ needs first hand. We see lifestyles that are so different from anything that we’ve experienced in the West, and we think that those different communities must be broken and in need of repair.

But what if before we tried to fix the brokenness and heal the neediness, we first looked at our own brokenness? What if we first recognized our own neediness and complete dependence on God? What if people living in different circumstances than us really aren’t any more broken than we are? 

Locals aren’t depending on you

Is it possible that we’re not as necessary as we think we are?

There are a lot of people in the world who have been living in need for generations. You may be able to be a part of their solution, but as one local believer addressing a group of outsiders said, “They are not waking up every morning and mentioning your name” (31).

Throughout the book, Palmer reminds readers of both the dignity (and brokenness) of those in need and the brokenness (and dignity) of those who have much. Both “sides” have something to give and something to receive. 

Solutions that heal

When we do discover needs in the world that we are positioned to address, we must be careful to address them in ways that actually bring healing and not more hurt. Through stories, examples, and prodding questions, Palmer teaches readers to evaluate the difference between actually helping a community and just trying to make a community look more like ours — something we’re more comfortable with. 

When serving communities in need, missions teams must prioritize the dignity of their neighbor and the sustainability of the solution. As Palmer points out in the book, Jesus gave those in need the dignity to express what they were seeking. Consider, for example, when Jesus asked a blind man what he wanted Jesus to do for him (Matthew 20:32). Palmer calls on believers to serve as Jesus did, allowing compassion to move us to action that honors our neighbor more than ourselves.

There are many ways that we can do this, and Palmer spends the majority of the book helping readers decipher myth from truth when it comes to serving those in need with dignity and then looks practically at what successful mercy-oriented missions programs look like.

While there is no one right answer for every need in every community, Palmer says that involving the community in the quest for long-term solutions to long-term problems is crucial. He describes outsiders as catalysts and local people as the ones who discover their problems, prioritize them, design their solutions, and implement their plans.

Palmer walks readers through a journey of considering (and hopefully understanding) how solutions that begin and end with the local people are both dignifying and sustainable after outsiders leave.

Why we help

If I’m broken and needy myself, if locals need to be the ones to create and carry out sustainable solutions, and if they’re not depending on me, then how come Palmer’s book didn’t talk me out of engaging in mercy-oriented missions?

Palmer concludes the book by reminding readers that helping communities in need gives us access to those who have never heard the gospel, empowers local churches to be on mission with God, and leads to international gospel proclamation. But we have to ask ourselves hard questions to make sure that these things are true of our mercy-oriented missions and that the people we are trying to help really want and need our help.

Mercy-oriented missions are for the good of people and the glory of God. So we pray for discernment, asking God to lead us and open our eyes and ears to the opportunities to meet needs and make his name known.

Whether a pursuit of mercy-oriented missions is intimidating to you or makes you feel good about yourself (or something in between), Palmer’s book invites you to consider weighty questions about the how and why behind your missions engagement. May our mercy-oriented missions always be for the glory of God.

By / Oct 6

When the COVID-19 pandemic brought Brazil’s economy to a screeching halt, the already impoverished communities were the ones most affected by the sudden loss of income.

Unable to beg at stoplights, get government subsidized assistance or even sell wares at outdoor markets like they have been accustomed to, these individuals were left with no means of providing for their families.

One region, known for being a vast and crowded slum, with over 200,000 occupants, was particularly devastated by the financial crisis. In this area, coronavirus-related deaths were recorded at a minimum of seven deaths a day—nearly six times the rate of China’s fatalities during this same period.

Send Relief heard about this community living hand-to-mouth and sprung into action.

Equipped with hundreds of food baskets and Bibles, teams were mobilized to help these families experience healing physically and spiritually—but God multiplied these efforts. Initially, this slum was the only neighborhood our teams were deployed to, but because of an increase in volunteer participation and many requests from other communities, we were able to reach five different neighborhoods in the poorest region of Brazil.

One volunteer, Maya*, told Send Relief teams, “The work of distributing the food baskets has been the fundamental help in these communities. Through the distribution, I’ve always seen gratitude in these people. Many of them don’t know how to express gratitude, but just looking in their faces [as they] demonstrate a happiness and hope that there is going to be food in their house, [I know they are]. And through the distribution of Bibles, God has also supplied the most important thing [for] their spiritual needs, and we will continue praying for these people to see that God is the Bread of Life.”

Eventually, this project became so successful that it spawned the creation of four identical efforts throughout São Paulo’s shantytowns and expanded to include mental health counseling. Thousands of people in need were assisted because of your generosity!

Since the beginning of these efforts, a prominent national Christian motorcycle club, Ministério Motociclistico Abençoados, has been an integral part of delivering baskets to families unable to travel to distribution sites. The club president commented on his experience volunteering, saying, “People came up to us and asked for Bibles while we were making deliveries, so we gave them out and prayed with them. In another place, a young pregnant couple came up and asked for a Bible and prayer because they wanted their baby to serve God. In both cases, we made sure that they were introduced to a local pastor and church so they can grow in their knowledge of the gospel.”

Our teams requested the involvement of five local churches to begin building relationships with faith communities, and, through their participation, hundreds of gospel presentations were conducted during the food and Bible distributions.

One church leader, Santiago*, shared, “[At] the distribution of the food, it was very gratifying to see these people so satisfied to receive these baskets. For me, it was an honor to know that we are working for Jesus. I want to thank the people who were involved in [healing] our community—thank you very much!”

This project was made possible by the generosity of Southern Baptists through Global Hunger Relief. On October 11, Global Hunger Sunday, you and your church can help more communities like this experience the tangible love of God.

*Names have been changed for security.

By / Oct 4

God calls the local church to tangibly love and support their communities and Send Relief is enabling them to do so in a radically important way. The ministry, a collaboration of the International Mission Board and the North American Mission Board, aims to partner with local churches to equip them with the finances and supplies necessary to help those affected by a disaster or crisis. 

Send Relief and natural disasters

Right now, that means an intense focus on New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Ida and preparation to help resettle thousands of Afghan refugees who have recently arrived in the United States. 

Relief from Hurricane Ida requires immediate attention, and there were 18 Southern Baptist Disaster Relief sites that coordinated responses across southern Louisiana and the Northeast. Basic necessities like food, water, and generators, along with resources for temporary roofing and mold remediation comprise much of the current need. 

In response to Hurricane Ida in Louisiana and the Northeast, Send Relief has supported the efforts of Southern Baptist Disaster Relief. Together, they have already tallied nearly 750,000 meals, 21,124 volunteer days, and volunteers have provided recovery work for approximately 1,700 homeowners. With two crises on their hands, they’ve been working overtime to ensure they are also prepared for the many Afghan families who will require assistance as we welcome them to the United States. 

Send Relief and refugees

Send Relief is not only focusing on natural disasters, but humanitarian crises that are international in scope and domestic in their implication.

“Southern Baptists are clearly being moved by the crisis in Afghanistan,” said Josh Benton, vice president of Send Relief’s National Operations. “They want to be prepared to serve Afghan families and share the gospel with them.” 

Thus far in 2021, hundreds of churches and individuals have given money, signed up as resettlement host homes and registered for training to help in a variety of ways. People appear to be eager to “carry each other’s burdens” -— as Christians are directed in Galatians 6:2. Send Relief is there to tangibly activate that desire. 

One of the most interesting opportunities is a chance to receive personalized coaching in evangelism, discipleship and cross cultural awareness from an Afghan refugee expert. Send Relief is also offering workshops on refugee care, as well as PDF downloads, video guidance and resources on ways to specifically pray for refugee ministry. 

The massive influx of refugees offers Christians across the nation an incredible opportunity to show love to the stranger and welcome them with open arms. Armed with the support of organizations like Send Relief, churches are paving the way for authentic Christian hospitality to envelop our Afghan friends. Such generosity and hospitality is key to the flourishing of the gospel in times of desperation. 

Partnering with Send Relief

For Southern Baptists seeking to engage the work of Send Relief, there are a number of ways to get involved. As for the Hurricane relief efforts, the best way to partner immediately is through a monetary donation. Physical needs are a priority right now. These physical needs, and the donations of Southern Baptists to meet them, provide an avenue for Send Relief volunteers and workers to meet spiritual needs. Regardless of the disaster at hand, Send Relief keeps the gospel at the forefront of what they call “compassion-focused ministries,” -— prioritizing evangelism within the meeting of physical needs. 

“[We] seek to meet the real and felt needs of people and communities,” said Benton, “So that the gospel can be proclaimed and a connection [made] to a local church.” 

There are arms and focuses that go beyond just disaster relief or immediate crises. Send Relief also has ministry locations planted to help those escaping from sex trafficking and families involved in foster care and adoption. They also provide clean water, education and medical care where it is needed most. 

With such a vast immersion into communities nationwide, it is clear that God is accomplishing much through the work of Send Relief. 

By / Sep 30

Free, downloadable bulletin insert for use by your church on Global Hunger Sunday.

To see additional SBC event dates, visit sbc.net/calendar.

Additional resources can be found at globalhungerrelief.org.

By / Mar 3

The coronavirus pandemic is pushing vulnerable populations into unprecedented risk of starvation in North America and around the world. Through the work of Global Hunger Relief, Southern Baptists are equipped to respond to this humanitarian crisis.

“Hunger is on the rise,” the 2021 Global Humanitarian Overview states. The report projects the current number of  “acutely food insecure people” around the world at 270 million. Food insecurity describes a household’s inability to provide enough food for every person to live an active, healthy life.

The overview reports that almost all food systems have been majorly disrupted in the last 12 months. Nearly every school-age child in the world has dealt with school closures this year, in some cases eliminating critical access to meals provided through schools.

In the United States, “more than 50 million people may experience food insecurity, including a potential 17 million children,” due to the pandemic, reports Feeding America.

Global Hunger Relief, an initiative of Southern Baptists, exists to serve those at risk for hunger around the world through Gospel-centered projects. GHR is prepared to meet immediate, crisis needs, but also provides long-term, sustainable solutions to end chronic hunger, such as job skills training, livestock and seed distribution, and clean water. 

GHR is a collaborative partnership between seven Southern Baptist organizations: Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, International Mission Board, North American Mission Board, Send Relief, Women’s Missionary Union, Lifeway Christian Resources, and the SBC Executive Committee.

Southern Baptists have a long history of working together to combat global hunger and established the World Hunger Fund in 1978, which eventually became known as Global Hunger Relief.

Because of the Cooperative Program, all donations given to GHR go directly to hunger needs. Twenty percent of funds meet needs in North America and Eighty percent of funds meet needs around the world. Learn more about Global Hunger Relief at globalhungerrelief.org and sendrelief.org

By / Oct 2

In a little over a week, many churches will observe Global Hunger Sunday (Oct. 11) and join with others across the globe to recognize World Food Day (Oct. 16), a worldwide event designed to increase awareness, understanding, and informed, year‐around action to alleviate hunger.

Here are 5 things you should know about global hunger and how to respond:

1. Global hunger refers to the want or scarcity of food in a country, aggregated to the world level. The related technical terms (e.g., those used in medicine) are malnutrition or undernutrition, both of which indicate a lack of some or all nutritional elements necessary for human health. Malnutrition affects nearly every country, and only two countries have levels of under-five stunting, anemia in women of reproductive age, and adult overweight all below public health thresholds. Children who are poorly nourished suffer up to 160 days of illness each year. Poor nutrition plays a role in at least half of the 10.9 million child deaths each year.

2. The COVID-19 pandemic could almost double the number of people suffering acute hunger, says the United Nations World Food Programme. The WFP notes that the economic effect of the pandemic could lead to more than a quarter of a billion people living in acute hunger by the end of 2020. “COVID-19 is potentially catastrophic for millions who are already hanging by a thread,” says Arif Husain, the chief economist for the WFP. “It is a hammer blow for millions more who can only eat if they earn a wage. Lockdowns and global economic recession have already decimated their nest eggs. It only takes one more shock – like COVID-19 – to push them over the edge. We must collectively act now to mitigate the impact of this global catastrophe.” By April, a total of 81% of the global workforce of 3.3 billion people had their workplace fully or partly closed. Around the world, an estimated equivalent of 195 million full-time workers lost their jobs. 

3. Prior to the pandemic, the majority of people suffering acute food insecurity were in countries affected by conflict (77 million), climate change (34 million), and economic crises (24 million people). In 2019, 10 countries constituted the worst food crises:  Yemen, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Afghanistan, Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of), Ethiopia, South Sudan, Syria, the Sudan, Nigeria, and Haiti. These 10 countries accounted for 66% of the total population—about 88 million—suffering from the hunger crisis.

4. The pandemic has also caused an increase in the United States. From 2019 to August 2020, the number of U.S. households that sometimes or often had “not enough to eat” almost tripled, according to an analysis of data from the Census Bureau and the Department of Agriculture. According to the Agriculture Department, the proportion of children in the U.S. who sometimes do not have enough to eat is now as much as 14 times higher than it was last year. Levels of food insecurity in Black and Latino households are significantly higher, at 19% and 17%, respectively, compared to 7% in white households.

5. Churches across the country will designate Oct. 11, 2020, as Global Hunger Sunday to bring attention to the global hunger crisis. SBC churches can help by supporting Global Hunger Relief (GHR), a cooperative initiative supported by ERLC and six other SBC partners. Donations to GHR go 100% toward meeting hunger needs in North America and around the world. One-fifth (20%) of giving to GHR is allotted to North

American hunger relief, with the remaining 80% is spent internationally. In North America, over 14 million meals were provided, while internationally, over 600,000 people were helped by projects supported through Global Hunger Relief in 2017. Additionally, 

Missions-focused GHR projects are integrated into the strategies prioritized by the North American Mission Board and International Mission Board. All GHR projects have an intentional spiritual strategy, work with Southern Baptist personnel, solicit local input and expertise, and have accountability measures built in.

A gift of $25 can provide up to 100 meals to feed the hungry. You can make a donation and access resources for your church at globalhungerrelief.com.

By / Sep 29

Almost half a billion people could be facing severe poverty due to the economic fallout of COVID-19.1All three intro stats taken from https://www.usglc.org/coronavirus/global-hunger/

Poverty is the leading cause of undernutrition, which is responsible for almost half of child deaths worldwide, and families around the world are now facing the harsh realities of chronic hunger—some for the very first time. One hundred-thirty million people are being pushed to the brink of starvation, with over three dozen countries predicted to experience devastating famines in the coming months.

Persistent hunger can drive people to desperation—especially mothers who are trying to care for and feed their children. Often, as a result of food shortages, vulnerable women are coerced into trafficking rings with the promise of consistent work. Once absorbed into this lifestyle, it is extremely difficult for them to find a safe way out.

Additionally, when an entire family’s funds are rerouted to focus on finding food for the day, other basic human necessities aren’t able to be prioritized. Families focused on survival rarely are able to pay for medical care for a chronic illness or sudden accident, often leaving the main breadwinner incapacitated and sinking the family further into poverty.

If the primary provider is unable to make money, the children are frequently then looked to for assistance if they are able-bodied. Sadly, many children in this situation are then exploited either for labor or pressured into child trafficking—sometimes without the parents’ knowledge and sometimes, as a final act of hopelessness, with their consent.

Obviously, the effects of chronic hunger are not isolated to empty bellies. Its impact is far-reaching and can be the first domino in a chain of devastation.

What are we doing about it?

Global Hunger Relief (GHR) is a reliable, sustainable initiative that Southern Baptists can use to make long-lasting differences in the lives of families at risk of starvation all over the world. With no administrative or overhead fees, Global Hunger Relief offers the unique guarantee that 100% of your gifts go directly to meeting hunger needs in North America and abroad.

Though some funding is used for immediate needs such as supplying food during a famine or natural disaster, most of the GHR projects are intentionally focused on establishing durable solutions to end global hunger one community at a time. These efforts include job skills training, clean water development, medical care, and human trafficking aftercare for survivors.

Vocational training classes help ensure that families don’t relapse into the cycle of generational poverty by equipping them with practical skills such as tailoring, soap-making, and livestock husbandry to help them either start businesses or enter the workforce.

Many diseases in agricultural or low-income regions are water-borne and can infect entire communities, so clean water projects are essential—if a family finally has access to nutritious meals but cooks their food with contaminated water, the food distribution becomes pointless.

As previously mentioned, medical care is often unattainable for families struggling with basic food provision, but in order to avoid child exploitation and other desperate “solutions,” medical care is essential to keeping parents healthy and able to work.

Finally, providing aftercare for human trafficking survivors helps ensure that those who have been subjected to trauma in order to support their families have the support necessary to recover and find other means of becoming self-sufficient.

As world food prices continue to rise due to the pandemic, you have the opportunity to help families struggling to keep food on the table discover new hope. On Sunday, Oct. 11—Global Hunger Sunday—your church, small group and family can change lives with your gifts. Download free posters, bulletin inserts, digital slides, devotionals, and more here, and commit to making a difference this October.