Guest blog post by, Janea Brown, with Children's Hunger Fund
Some say, "To combat poverty, address the cause." Makes sense, but since the “cause” of poverty and the “cause” of hunger aren’t simple, I don’t think the solution is either. There are countless contributors to the problem of poverty and hunger—greed, theft, failure to plan, lack of education, laziness, natural disasters, disability, injustice, slavery, war, oppression, just to name a few. And each one is complicated, presenting unique challenges that cannot be remedied through legislation or social programs alone.
But what if we took a step back and considered possible solutions that aren’t necessarily popular. Conventional wisdom says if someone is hungry, give them a fish. Others argue, if someone is hungry, teach them how to fish. So what would it look like to teach someone in need how to change their situation?
Poverty and hunger are co-related. Many hungry people are trapped in severe poverty. They often lack the money or physical well being to buy or grow food. That downward spiral often leads to malnutrition or other life-threatening conditions.
There is, however, enough food on this planet for everyone. The challenge is breaking the cycle and finding solutions that help people escape poverty and re-build their physical and mental health.
What if relief organizations teamed up with local faith-based organizations, places of worship, and community leaders to address the complete problem of poverty and all that poverty brings? I think we’d all be surprised at the power of compassion and success of providing communities with both physical and spiritual solutions to the problem of poverty and hunger. A comprehensive approach to solving the problem, one that provides physical and spiritual solutions can make a lasting difference in the lives of the poor, the hungry, their families, and their communities.
I’ve seen mothers who are desperate for help and without a strong sense of hope, receive the physical aid they need and an emotional and spiritual healing that transforms their lives. Those same mothers now reach out to help others in their community and pass along spiritual support, advice, and friendship in the face of hardship. And I’d say that’s a good start--looking at a comprehensive approach to fighting hunger, improving health, and creating opportunities for people to climb out of poverty. It might not be the most popular or common aspect of community-building efforts, but I’ve seen it work! At least it’s food for thought and a good conversation to start.