Saturday, September 4, 2010

Summer reading & planning

Summer is over and Facing Hunger in America's first multi-state trip is about to begin!  This trip will take us to Washington, DC and 8 nearby states (MD, DE, WV, VA, NC, SC, TN, KY).  We're scheduled to experience a huge range of types of programs, as well as interview policy officials, so check back for highlights as we go.

In preparation, we read some fascinating books:

Miles, Sara. Take This Bread: A Radical Conversion. Chicago: Ballantine Books, 2008.
This book chronicles the author's painful, challenging, and rewarding experiences as she discovers Christianity, starts a food pantry, and welcomes everyone to be served.  We were moved by words Sara used to introduce the idea to the congregation:  "Because of how I've been welcomed and fed in the Eucharist, I see starting a food pantry at church not as an act of 'outreach' but one of gratitude.  To feed others means acknowledging our own hunger and at the same time acknowledging the amazing abudance we're fed with by God." (p. 116)

Hudson, Helen. Dinner at six: Voices from the soup kitchen. Balgowlah: Wildfire Press, 2002.
This book compiles life stories told to the author (a regular volunteer at a soup kitchen) by people who came to that soup kitchen for meals.  Readers see the diners first through the eyes of the volunteer, and then in their own words.  Their stories are full of tragedy, transience, and physical and psychological challenges.  Yet their humanity shines through and reminds you of the crucial role soup kitchens play in their lives.

Berg, Joel. All You Can Eat: How Hungry is America?. New York: Seven Stories Press, 2008.
The author is a passionate advocate for solving the problem of hunger in America.  His thought-provoking book is full of compelling and instructive statistics, descriptions of the causes and traps of hunger, historical and political analysis, and a specific plan for ending hunger in America.  After estimating that (in 2004) it would cost approximately $24 billion in "food purchasing power" to end hunger in America, Berg says, "...$24 billion equals only about 6 percent of the annual cost of President George W. Bush's annual tax cuts, a little more than one quarter of the annual cost of the war in Iraq, or just a little more than what the nation now spends on crop subsidies."   (p. 242)  Where are our priorities?

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