From famine in rural regions of Africa, to severe food shortages in refugee camps in the Middle East, to undernourishment in wealthy U.S. cities – hunger affects a multitude of people around the world every single day. Approximately 805 million people suffer from hunger on a daily basis according to the World Food Programme.
Food is necessary to fuel the body and mind for a healthy life, and when people suffer days, weeks, and sometimes months without adequate nutrition, they cannot function in daily activities. Their minds are not clear, their bodies are not able to perform daily tasks, and their immune systems cannot fight off illness. Malnourished muscle tissue deteriorates, reducing stamina and making it difficult for one to perform the work necessary to support a family. Hungry children lose the desire to play, as well as the ability to concentrate in school. And when workforce and education rates are lowered, the result is economic troubles for the entire community.
The most dangerous effect of hunger and malnourishment, especially in children, is slow immune response. This increases the risk of infection and makes it harder to recover from simple illnesses like diarrhea and the common cold. Many children die from these illnesses because their bodies are not nourished, and therefore, not strong enough to fight infection.
The form of hunger most highlighted in the media is acute starvation – children who are just skin and bones and mothers so weak they can barely hold their babies. These images are real and true, and Willow Creek partners with churches around the world that are fighting to end famine of this magnitude. Whole communities are transformed when seeds are donated, cultivation methods are taught, water wells are dug, irrigation systems are built, and chickens are provided for farming. Contributions to our annual Celebration of Hope campaign go toward helping with these initiatives.
However, hunger is more than just the images of starvation you see in the media. Daily undernourishment is much less visible and harder to produce in photos. Sometimes people who have enough food to fill their bellies are still undernourished because they lack access to adequately nutritious food. Much like those in underdeveloped regions of the world who must subsist on plain rice or corn flour, Americans who rely solely on fast food and cheap, processed food are in danger of undernourishment.
The Willow Creek Care Center is addressing these local needs by providing nutrient-rich foods, such as fresh vegetables, dairy, and whole grains in our full-choice food pantry. We serve households that are food insecure – meaning they do not have ready access to nutritious food, generally due to insufficient income. We are also launching nutrition education classes at the Care Center to teach those who suffer from food insecurity how to obtain and prepare nutritious meals on a limited budget.
At Willow, we believe in coming alongside those who are suffering from hunger, not only by providing immediate food supply, but also by helping them find a way out of the hunger crisis. Our global church partners are working diligently to end hunger through areas of education, health services, and community development. The Care Center helps our local neighbors in need get back on their feet through employment services, dental and vision care, help with transportation, and many other areas of assistance. All of God’s people deserve to be freed from hunger, and as Christ followers we are called to be the hands and feet that help them.
So how can you help? Pray for those who are hungry, help educate the people around you, give to Celebration of Hope, and volunteer at the Care Center.
“For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.” – Matthew 25:35-36