Dear United States Presidential Candidates,
I want to thank you and commend you for your willingness to campaign for the highest office in the free world. Your commitment to public service in this arena is honorable and your calling to this high-service vocation doesn’t go unnoticed.
I’ve personally come together with other national leaders from all the major branches of Christianity to bring light to the issue of global poverty through The Circle of Protection. We care deeply about many issues facing our country, but ending hunger and poverty is a top priority for us in our collective missions. We are actively praying for a president who will make ending hunger and poverty a top priority of his or her administration and we want to know… are you that leader?
Since World Food Day is upon us, I think that this is the perfect opportunity to petition your support of policies, provisions, funding, and advocacy that stands with organizations such Food for the Hungry in our efforts to end ALL forms of poverty worldwide should you have the honor of serving as President of the United States.
World Food Day is a day of action against hunger. On October 16, people around the world come together to declare their commitment to eradicate hunger in our lifetime. Because when it comes to hunger, the only acceptable number in the world is zero. I hope that is a goal that is something you and your administration take seriously as you think about the changes you intend to implement.
A painful example of need
On one of my many trips to Rwanda, I had the pleasure of meeting a young couple that was living there with their two children. They were living well below the poverty line. When I spoke to their son Christophe, he told me that his parents would prepare meals for him and his sister, but wouldn’t eat any of it themselves. When I asked him why he thought that was, he shared that it was because his parents were full grown and didn’t need food anymore, while he and his sister were still growing.
His innocent observations broke me. The sacrifices that families are making all over the world just to feed their children are agonizing and the ability to help is in our hands.
Food means a lot to my family.
And not just in the literal sense, but the cultivation and harvesting of food is deeply rooted in my ancestry.
My father was born in a prison medical hospital because at the time my grandfather was hired to teach agriculture to the inmates. It served to help them grow nutritious food while incarcerated, but it also helped them to develop a job skill that would be valuable upon their release. My family knew that food was a basic human right and that everyone deserved to have access to it; that sentiment followed me all of my life.
Growing up in Michigan in the 1950s, my family always had a garden on our property somewhere and we were taught to give food our care and attention. From a young age, we learned how to cultivate a garden how to can fruits and vegetables. Our family would use our extra income to purchase things like an extra freezer to store food safely.
When someone in our neighborhood became ill or injured, I watched each time as friends and neighbors rallied around them to bring meals. Food was how you showed someone you cared. It’s how you let them know they have value. Food is fundamental.
Right now, all over the world we have friends and neighbors who don’t have a means for providing for their basic need of food. They cannot sustain their fragile bodies without it. I call upon us as a people to return to the good-natured hospitality mindset that I witnessed in my youth, the one that cares for others who are without. We can only overcome overwhelming hunger if we all learn how to localize our help by mobilizing those with the discernment and capacity to respond. If we get involved and begin to see the vulnerable as humans in need, we can make a great impact around the world.
While I hope that your administrations would continue to offer foreign aid, financial assistance to organizations like Food for the Hungry, and policies that help to end hunger, I think that your influence and advocacy can go deeper. I know that you can help shift the focus of an entire nation to be more neighborly so that the responsibility rests on us all collectively.
I encourage you as leaders to provide our country with an example of how to serve the world’s most vulnerable people, how to show others they have value by serving them, and of course how to be good neighbors.
President and CEO, Food for the Hungry