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 organizations which have good working relations in their own countries 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.
In 2019, PHP is also responding to extreme hunger and famine where there are urgent needs. The four countries where famine has been declared are Nigeria, Somalia, Yemen, and South Sudan. Learn more.
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.
The Hunger Program addresses Sustainable Living & Earth Care Concerns in a variety of ways. As a means to inspire and equip congregations and presbyteries to work for eco-justice for all of God’s earth, we produce, promote and distribute faith-based resources for individuals, congregations and presbyteries. The Hunger Program houses Enough for Everyone, a lifestyle integrity and education program which 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. We oversee 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. PHP also 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.
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.
Check out the 2019 PHP Impact Report – see what your gifts, advocacy, and working in partnership helped to achieve in 2019.
PHP’s 2020 Grant Report (for work happening in 2021) is also available below.
Download the 2019 PHP Impact Report
2020 PHP Grant Report
Resources and Materials
Resources and materials are available from the Presbyterian Hunger Program, including educational resources for congregations and individuals. Many resources are available as free downloads or as printed copies for purchase. Below you will find links to specific resources created by the hunger program as well as recommended resources produced elsewhere.
Presbyterian Hunger Program Bible Study
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
A variety of presentations can be used to learn about and interpret the work of PHP, including Earth Care Congregations, international hunger work and the Joining Hands program, Hunger Action Congregations, and the Hunger Program overall. Narrated versions are available, or you can download a version with notes to lead yourself. Download presentations here
Also called 2-cents-a-meal, Cents-Ability
resources are available to help congregations and presbyteries raise money for local, national and international hunger ministries.
One Great Hour of Sharing
Materials from the Office of Special Offerings are available to help with OGHS promotion. Resources
, including great Minutes for Mission, help tell the story of the work done by PHP, thanks to your faithful giving.
The Just Eating
bible study explores the relationship between our faith and our food. Adult, middle school, and African American Congregation versions are available. Learn more and download or order copies
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.
NEW Considering our Treasure: A Reflection on Embracing God’s Economy
Dive deeper into Luke 12:34 as you use this resource for learning, reflection, study, and action. Consider (alone or with your group) God’s economy, where your treasure is and where it is being spent, and how your resources reflect God’s love for creation. Click Here
Food Relief Activities
Learn ways your congregation, conference, youth, or mission group can help feed the hungry, as Jesus called the disciples to do in Matthew 25. Includes suggestions for local ministry and ideas for best practices for those who wish to meet needs globally. Click Here
Help protect forests, local jobs, and sustainable livelihoods in the harvesting communities by ordering Eco Palms
Earth Care Resources
Tread Lightly for Lent
PHP-Recommended Book List
Books about hunger, poverty, ecology, and more – recommendations for adults, youth, and children
Food and Faith materials
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 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.
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:
Show or Lead a PHP Powerpoint
PHP has powerpoint presentations that you can use to:
- interpret the overall work of PHP,
- learn about Earth Care Congregations and how to become one,
- learn about our International Hunger work and Joining Hands program, and
- learn about Hunger Action Congregations and how to become one.
Choose between an already recorded narrated version (sit back and play for a group discussion or class), or download one with notes that you can rehearse and lead yourself. Download any and all of these here.
Study Your Community Food Assets – The Presbyterian Hunger Program has created this youth group hunger education activity that can be adapted as an adult study or intergenerational activity, for either a 75 minute session or broken into two smaller sessions. Learn about your own community’s food insecure areas, food assets, and underlying causes of hunger.
Help meet needs in your community and globally through these food relief activities.
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!