Alleviating Hunger and Eliminating Its Causes
“Enslaving poverty in a world of abundance is an intolerable violation of God’s good creation.”—Book of Confessions, 9.46
Fighting hunger is at the heart of our Presbyterian understanding of mission. Jesus fed the hungry and told his disciples to do the same. Yet, we know that hunger is an extremely complex phenomenon with economic, political and social causes. A local congregation can make a huge impact on local hunger. Thankfully Presbyterian churches are feeding hungry people in their neighborhoods with food pantries, soup kitchens, community meals, community gardens, backpack programs and more. This important hunger ministry is vital to people who are hungry today. As the national Presbyterian Hunger Program we celebrate this vital work of local congregations and we complement it by doing “root cause” work to help address the underlying questions of why people are hungry in order to reduce ongoing hunger.
When the world tolerates the vicious suffering of hungry people, the church is called to speak out and share all that we have. When powers and principalities regularize exploitation, the church stands with the exploited and witnesses to the fullness of life God intends for all. When people are made poor and vulnerable or reduced to objects of pity, the church builds relationships of dignity and equality among all. Even at the risk of losing its own life, the church is called to point beyond ourselves to the new reality in Christ. Praying and working with Presbyterians and other partners, that it may be “on earth as it is in heaven” the Presbyterian Hunger Program helps the church respond to the violence of hunger and poverty.
Presbyterian Hunger Program’s mission is clear: alleviate hunger and eliminate its causes. There is no one size fits all solution. PHP complements the work of Presbyterian congregations through strategic partnership collaborations, print and web educational and worship materials, and participatory programs so that Presbyterians Go, Join, and Act to end hunger for our neighbors next door and across the planet.
We approach hunger holistically with 5 tools:
- Direct Food Relief combined with Root Cause Work
- Sustainable Development
- Intentional and Sustainable Living
Employing these tools alongside congregations, partners and local communities, together we can end hunger.
Get Serious about Ending Hunger!
Take the Hunger Pledge as a Congregation—Click here to read how.
Joining Hands is a holistic international hunger ministry. The program builds bridges of solidarity between coalitions of churches in the United States and networks of overseas churches, grassroots groups and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs). The focus of the program is to address the inequities and suffering resulting from the spread of globalization, through community education, advocacy, alternative economic activities, lifestyle changes and spiritual grounding. It aims at restoring the wholeness of God’s creation and the healing of the human family across faiths, races and cultures through prayer, mutual visits, humble accompaniment, repentance and mutual transformation. Visit the Joining Hands website to learn how your presbytery or congregation can join hands with our partners overseas.
Much of PHP’s international work is done through Joining Hands partnerships, but PHP supports good international development through other means as well. Through our grant partnerships PHP supports projects where the activities respond to a real need, are driven by affected communities, and bring about long-term improvements in the quality of life of those communities, increasing self-reliance and empowerment. In considering these partnerships PHP prioritizes organization which have good working relations in its own country with a national church body, whether or not it is a formal partner of the PC(USA). It also may show existing relationships with community organizations, government agencies and other programs which share the same goals. To learn more visit the International Development & Advocacy website.
Homelessness, hunger and food insecurity are a reality for more than 50 million people in the US, so efforts to alleviate hunger and eliminate its root causes are critical. PHP celebrates and complements the faithful work of congregations which run and support feeding programs locally. The focus of PHP’s work at the national level is to educate, equip and catalyze efforts by individuals and congregations to address the underlying policies and systems that perpetuate hunger and poverty. To learn more visit the National Hunger & Poverty website.
Food and Faith explores the relationship between our food sources and how they relate to our moral beliefs. It examines the physical and spiritual aspect of nourishment. The initiative exists online as a blog, but it weaves its way into nearly everything that PHP does. Much of PHP’s funding is allocated towards food justice for poor people in the United States and food sovereignty for developing nations worldwide. Presbyterians can learn about Food and Faith through educational resources like the Just Eating Curriculum and by participating in special events such as the 12-month series of 40 hour fasts in response to the global food crisis.
PHP recognizes that Christians must be willing to stand with those who have been made poor until they are heard by powerful institutions and decision makers. Sometimes the advocacy work to change systemic causes of poverty involves addressing business practices that diminish human well-being and fostering new models of corporate responsibility. The Campaign for Fair Food is an ongoing effort in partnership with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) to establish purchasing practices within the retail food industry that ensure and advance fair wages and other human rights of tomato pickers who labor at the base of these corporate supply chains.
Congregation-Based Community Organizing is a strategy for rebuilding communities, revitalizing congregations and developing individuals into effective leaders and change agents. Four percent of the One Great Hour of Sharing Offering is designated for Congregation-Based Community Organizing. These organizations provide a vehicle for churches, schools, unions and non-profits to carry their concerns and values into public life, as they create policy and hold those in power accountable for their decisions. Learn more on the Congregation-Based Community Organizing website.
Enough for Everyone is a lifestyle integrity and education program. It focuses on the big picture of our economic lives and asks not what our dollars do in the offering plate, but what our dollars do in the marketplace. It helps Presbyterians ask themselves questions like: Does my coffee provide good wages to small farmers or does it enrich CEOs at the expense of the producers? Are our Palm Sunday palms damaging God’s Creation? Is my savings account supporting development and women’s rights or fueling human rights abuses? Were our youth group T-shirts printed in a sweatshop? Enough for Everyone asks these questions through educational resources like the Just Living series, experiences such as Fair Trade Delegations, and through direct outreach to congregations via projects like the Presbyterian Coffee Project and the Global Marketplace. Learn more and get involved on the Enough for Everyone website.
Environmental Ministries works to inspire and equip congregations and presbyteries to work for eco-justice for all of God’s earth. Environmental Ministries produces, promotes and distributes faith-based environmental resources for individuals, congregations and presbyteries as well as coordinates the Environmental Ministries Action Network, a communication network for Presbyterians involved in earth care in their churches and presbyteries. Environmental Ministries also oversees the Earth Care Congregations program, which encourages Presbyterian churches to care for God’s earth and certifies those that have affirmed the Earth Care Pledge and taken holistic actions in earth care in the fields of worship, education, facilities and outreach. Additionally, this office helps PCCCA and Presbyterians for Earth Care to support young adults interested in becoming Eco-Stewards and relates to Presbyterians for Earth Care, an Eco-Justice network dedicated to environmental wholeness with social justice, seeking to be a prophetic voice for substantive change in the church and in the world. Learn more about these programs and getting involved on the Environmental Ministries website.
Your gifts to One Great Hour of Sharing and the Presbyterian Hunger Program make a difference in lives around the world. Together we work to alleviate hunger and eliminate its causes, rooting our work in communities through partner grants, striving to change laws and practices so communities can flourish, and engaging Presbyterians in this work—locally & globally.
Here’s an exciting glimpse of what your gifts, advocacy, and working in partnership helped to achieve in 2015:
Food production increased, raising income and improving food security for more than 100,000 people in 28 countries.
More than 40,546 acres of land were reclaimed in Sri Lanka, Honduras, Paraguay, Bolivia and Cameroon, setting precedents for civil society to enforce laws protecting communities from future land grabs.
5,413 people participated in agroecology, nutrition, water and seed management, beekeeping, and business skills trainings.
Over $671,500 in stolen wages was returned to 200 workers, and more than $4 million was paid in Fair Food Premiums to 30,000 farmworkers.
Grant partners in 28 countries distributed/planted/ installed:
- 560 micro-credit loans to women
- 127,000 trees
- 50 fuel-efficient stoves
- 20 solar dryers
- 14 wells/water systems
- 119 toilets & latrines (built/repaired)
Helping to close the gap on hunger and poverty in the United States, more than 244,000 pounds of food was grown in community or church gardens; congregations recovered more than 7 million pounds of food for low income families through gleaning projects; and nearly 1,200 congregations worked with food banks or soup kitchens serving more than 1 million people.
190 Earth Care Congregations were certified, including 30 first-time congregations.
Presbyterian purchasing power made a difference for farmers in Central America, Hmong refugees in the U.S., women in Nicaragua, and other fair trade artisans around the world. Together you bought 183,640 eco-palm fronds, 76,567 pounds of fair trade coffee (and a lot of chocolate), and more than 11,000 sweat-free t-shirts.
Print the full PHP 2015 Impact Report (bi-fold) to share with your congregation.
Meet Our Partners
The Presbyterian Hunger Program creates educational resources for congregations and individuals. Many resources are available as free downloads or as hard copies for purchase. Below you will find links to specific resources created by the hunger program as well as recommended resources produced elsewhere.
Hunger Program Materials
Presbyterian Hunger Program Bible Study
Visit the Presbyterian Hunger Program Bible Study companion webpage to download the bible study and access additional materials.
PHP Post Newsletters
Download current and previous issues of the Hunger Program’s quarterly journal. Each issue focuses on one hunger- and poverty-related topic and includes updates about PHP programs as well as reflections, scripture and activities. Email email@example.com to sign up to receive the Post.
Also called 2-cents-a-meal, the Cents-Ability program has plenty of customizable resources available for congregations and Presbyteries to raise money for local, national and international hunger ministries.
One Great Hour of Sharing
Materials from the Office of Special Offerings for OGHS promotion. Supplementary materials, including great Minutes for Mission, help tell the story of the work done by PHP, thanks to your faithful giving.
This Just Eating bible study explores the relationship between our faith and our food. Adult and middle school versions are available in English and Spanish as downloads and in print.
Several resources are available about Joining Hands.
This series of short booklets helps Presbyterians practice their faith in their everyday lives. Each issue explores lifestyle integrity for different seasons of our lives.
Sweat Free T-Shirts
Sweat-Free Ts come direct from the Nueva Vida Women’s Sewing Cooperative (COMAMNUVI) and Fair Trade Zone in Nicaragua.
Help protecting forests, local jobs, and sustainable livelihoods in the harvesting communities — order your Eco Palms today.
PC(USA) Environmental Ministries exists to equip and connect you, your church, and your presbytery for your earth care ministry. Find resources and information in the area of worship, education, outreach and facilities.
Food and Faith materials
Help foster healthy children, healthy communities and viable family farmers
Garden Safe, Garden Well Guide: Jumpstart your community garden with & customize with your own local resources in minutes.
Food Sovereignty for All Handbook: Create a community garden or other faith-based initiative using this resource the for guidance.
A Preliminary Report on Seeds and Seeds Practices across the US: Produced by the US Food Sovereignty Alliance, the Presbyterian Hunger Program and partner organizations highlights concerns about monopolization of seeds.
Food Movements Unite! Companion Bible Study accompanies Food Movements Unite! a new book, from Food First, that is full of strategies to transform our food systems. Discussion questions arranged by the themes of head, heart, hands, biblical and transformational provide the basis for adult book study groups to do four- or six-week studies. Order Food Movements Unite! Or visit the FoodFirst website to download a chapter of Food Movements Unite written by Lucas Benitez of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, a long time partner of PHP.
Facts about Hunger
About 925 million people suffer from hunger worldwide. That’s one out of every seven people. To learn more about hunger and poverty in the U.S. and around the world, check out our webinars and other videos or visit some of these websites:
Take Action – Stand in solidarity with our partners through letter writing and engaging members of Congress.
Webinars – Register for upcoming webinars and to see previous presentations.
Reflection Action Trips – The Presbyterian Hunger Program is promoting experiential trips which analyze the root causes of hunger and poverty while calling participants to engage in solidarity actions with our local and global partners.
Volunteer! – Add your time and talent to further the mission of partners of One Great Hour of Sharing Ministries. With local leadership, these groups are responding to critical needs, addressing root causes, increasing self–reliance and building community power. Learn about ways to engage with PHP, PDA and SDOP partners on the interactive OGHS Engagement Map.
Take the Snap challenge! – The SNAP/Food Stamp Challenge is a discipline designed to draw attention to the realities of poverty and hunger in the U.S. and to open new opportunities for education, understanding, compassion and solidarity.
Raise Funds for Hunger:
Cents-Ability – Congregations invite every member — of all ages — to contribute a few cents at every meal. Half of the collected funds can stay in your congregation to benefit local hunger ministries and the other half is sent to the Presbyterian Hunger Program.
One Great Hour of Sharing Offering – Most congregations receive “OGHS” on Easter Sunday, Passion/Palm Sunday or both, while many receive it throughout Lent—however, you can help sustain the important PC(USA) ministries and programs that are supported by OGHS Offering by making an online gift at any time throughout the year.
Presbyterian Giving Catalog – The giving catalog raises funds for our denomination’s work in relief and development. Your alternative gift is only one of the many ways you can make a life-changing difference. Spread the word with family, friends, and involve your congregation in gift giving that demonstrates God’s work in the world!