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Home > Interpreter Magazine > Archives > 2004 Archives > February-March 2004 > Hunger by the Numbers: Groups Work to Stop Growth of Global Hunger

Hunger by the Numbers: Groups Work to Stop Growth of Global Hunger

Hunger is the gnawing pain in the pit of a young mother's stomach as she feeds her children the last of their food while she goes without. It's the ache in the heart of a father who works two minimum-wage jobs and still cannot afford to buy enough food for his family.

This happens every day in the United States says Ken Horne, a United Methodist pastor and executive director of the Society of St. Andrew—a nationwide, ecumenical, nonprofit ministry with 35 offices in 18 states, including hunger relief advocates in 19 United Methodist conferences.

"Too many people live in circumstances, over which they have no control, that foster hunger," says Horne.

Nearly 35 million U.S. citizens, including 13.1 million children, live with food insecurity, notes the United States Department of Agriculture's July 2003 Food Insecurity Report. That's equivalent to the entire population of California. Food insecurity is the persistent worry of not knowing if one will have enough food to eat.

Nearly 40 percent of emergency food recipient households have at least one adult who works. But over the past 20 years, the poverty rate among working families has increased by nearly 50 percent.

"These 'statistics' are our families, friends and neighbors," says Horne. "There is no excuse for hunger in this country except the lack of will to end it."

Bridging the gap between excess food and people who need it is at the heart of the Society of St. Andrew. By gleaning fields each year, thousands of volunteers help save fresh produce from going to waste and distribute it to the hungry across the country.

Tom Sixbey, a member of First Church in Salem, Va., and chair of the missions committee, is a volunteer gleaner.

"Gleaning is a biblical concept, and it's not difficult. More than 20 people from our church have gleaned with the Society of St. Andrew, and everyone thought it was a great experience and wants to do it again," Sixbey says.

Year-round, the organization networks with thousands of growers who donate their fields for gleaning after the harvest and with packers who donate fresh produce that falls below commercial grade. All this food, which will otherwise go to waste, is bagged and distributed to agencies across the nation to feed the hungry.

Wardell Boyd, president of the Chicago-Southern District United Methodist Men, says, "I am inspired to help take Society of St. Andrew gleaning projects to the highest level, where they belong." This after participating in a marathon gleaning, traveling 380 miles round trip on three different days, to glean green beans at a Michigan farm. Beans picked in the morning in Michigan were on dinner tables that evening in Indiana and Illinois.

During more than 20 years of hunger relief work, the Society of St. Andrew has provided more than 1 billion servings of food to the nation's hungry. And that's a number on which they want to improve.

—Carol A. Breitinger is director of communications for the Society of St. Andrew.

For more information

• Society of St. Andrew
"Bridge the Hunger Gap": call (800) 333-4597; or go to Give through your local church, Society of St. Andrew Potato Project Advance No. 801600.

• Stop Hunger Now
United Methodist Committee on Relief Advance No. 982795. Go to; or call (888) 501-8440.

• United Methodist Committee on Relief
World Hunger/Poverty, Advance No. 982920. Give through your local church, or send to: UMCOR, Room 330, 475 Riverside Dr., New York, NY 10115. Write "World Hunger/Poverty, Advance No. 982920" on the memo line of the check. Call (800) 554-8583 for credit card donations.

For information about UMCOR's World Hunger/Poverty ministries, go to


The Society of St. Andrew celebrates 25 years

In 1979, Ken Horne and Ray Buchanan, two young United Methodist ministers fresh out of seminary, had a vision of a world without hunger.

Using a converted sheep shed as an office, they conducted workshops for church groups on responsible living in a world where so many people go hungry. They talked about food waste and how an equitable distribution of excess food could solve the problem of hunger.

A farmer gave them a pickup-truck load of potatoes from his field, which quickly led to 13 tractor-trailer loads of potatoes donated by other farmers. Thus was born the Society of St. Andrew's Potato Project.

This year the society marks its 25th anniversary by kicking off a three-year effort, "Bridge the Hunger Gap," to raise enough money to provide an additional 100 million servings of food to the nation's hungry.

Stop Hunger Now
by Ray Buchanan

Hunger touches the lives of two-thirds of the human family. It's real, and it preys on the weakest, stalking "the least of these among us"—the young, older adults, the weak and the poor.

Every day, hunger and hunger-related diseases claim more than 30,000 lives. Ten children under the age of 5 die of hunger every minute.

Since 1998, Stop Hunger Now, a nonprofit international relief organization, has worked with small, faith-based organizations to coordinate food distribution and other life-saving aid to crisis areas worldwide.

One such area is Kiberia, located near Nairobi, Kenya. Kiberia is home to one of the largest slums in Africa—more than 800,000 of the poorest of the poor.

It's also the site of the Rye Clinic, where Stop Hunger Now provides medicine, food relief and education for community health-care workers. Started with a $25 donation from a college student, it's the only 24-hour clinic in Kiberia.

The cry of the hungry is a moral imperative the church cannot ignore. Nothing is more spiritual than our response to the hungry.

—Ray Buchanan is president and CEO of Stop Hunger Now.

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