by Dorothy Sorrell
As a 16-year-old volunteering at a food bank, Maria Rose Belding, an ELCA member, saw food that was thrown away because of expiration dates and knew there had to be a way to stop that waste. I was especially inspired by Belding’s presentation to ELCA World Hunger Leadership Gathering in Washington, D.C. which met Jan. 21-24, 2018 with the theme: “Until All Are Fed.”
What is so remarkable is that Belding, now a 22-year-old, full time, premed student at American University (AU), found a programmer at AU who set up a database. Using what became the MEANS Database, over the past three years the food pantry communication system has made possible recovery of more than 1.6 million pounds of food. MEANS Database now partners in 48 states and D.C.
More than 140 attendees met with the staff of U.S. Senators and Representatives to express our desire for the 2018 Farm Bill to continue to reduce hunger and poverty in the United States and around the world and encourage sustainable stewardship of our resources. Twelve areas are included in the Farm Bill.
“Martin Luther the advocate wrote 100s of letters to the princes of his day. Now we prepare to train @ELCAWorldHunger leaders to speak about faith priorities on the Farm Bill.” ~ Tweet from Amy Reumann with @ELCAAdvocacy
There could be cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP – formerly known as food stamps); Temporary Emergency Food Assistance (TEFAP), which provides USDA surplus food and financial support to food banks; and Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP), which provides surplus food to seniors. The Farm Bill also includes efforts directed at conservation – including watersheds, forests, and ecosystems – and research.
Even though we have no major farms in the Metro D.C. Synod, all areas included in the bill could have impact locally – like the cost of food. The list goes on and on.
Bishop Richard Graham offered prayer at the conclusion of a Prayer Breakfast before attendees set out to raise concerns through congressional visits. Other local participation in the ELCA-wide event included the Rev. Ray Ranker, who was part of a panel discussion on Vocation and Public Service.