As I write this an army of volunteers from numerous local churches are preparing to distribute food from the Loaves and Fishes Community Food Pantry which is housed here. For more than a decade laypeople committed to hunger relief have been helping households facing food insecurity in this area through Loaves and Fishes. In the last couple of years we have seen the number of people seeking assistance rise drastically, which is not surprising in light of a report released just a few days ago.
According to figures just released from the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), the number of Americans having trouble getting enough food to eat reached an all time high since such records have been kept. In 2008 14.6% of American households (more than one in seven) faced food insecurity. This represents a 3.5 percentage point increase over 2007, the largest percentage increase since the USDA began publishing this data. This latest survey reveals that nearly one child in four (22.5%) in this country is food insecure.
Paula Thornton Greear who works with the hunger-relief charity Feeding America called the USDA numbers "extremely alarming" since they reflect the situation in 2008. With unemployment figures worsening in 2009, she thinks the number of people facing food insecurity this year "may be even higher."
Obviously Christians cannot ignore such news. The Bible tells us that we must feed the hungry. Here at Brunswick Islands Baptist Church, besides our involvement with the Loaves and Fishes Community Food Pantry, we will receive our World Hunger Offering at our Thanksgiving Eve service next Wednesday evening. This offering will support the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of North Carolina Hunger Fund (75%) and the global hunger relief efforts of Baptist World Aid (25%). If you can bring some nonperishable food items for Loaves and Fishes, all the better.