What we all do matters in solving hunger

By Ruth Ferris I look at my computer and know that I have to write one more time about hunger in Eatonville. I have been writing about it for a long time. We have an inspiring team of fund-raisers at the Eatonville Family Agency (EFA) who have just finished a successful Aid the Agency campaign. Many community members and groups gave faithfully, many coming up with new and creative ways to respond to hunger. We are making a difference. In spite of this, the numbers of people needing food assistance from the EFA is growing. In Washington, in spite of the affluence created by the tech industry, the aerospace industry and robust Asia-Pacific trade, we remain the 23rd hungriest state in the nation. Since the 2008 recession, Washington has cut more than $12 billion in discretionary spending, all in areas of public safety, higher education and basic-needs services. One in five kids in Washington lives in a household that struggles to put food on the table (northwestharvest.org/wa-hunger-facts). Recently, the nearby Morton food bank closed for a month, and a final step of a congressional cost-saving cut in the food stamp program took access to food stamps away from over a million people. These and other factors have put more people needing food on our doorstep. How do we maintain the will and the energy to keep fighting the terrible evil of hunger? Years ago, while I was driving through the night on the freeway, my public radio station was airing a special on the AIDS epidemic, and the director of World Vision was talking about what he was seeing as he traveled the world. In the early days of the epidemic, victims were often abandoned by their friends, their families, their employers and even their churches. Thousands were dying terrible deaths, and as bad as their plight was in America, this speaker was seeing even more suffering in developing countries. One image that stayed in my mind was one hospital where the beds were so few that the dying took turns sleeping on the floor every other night. As he concluded his heartbreaking account of what he was seeing, the World Vision director ended with a startling idea: "This epidemic is God's test for the world, and how we respond matters.GÇ¥ At first, that sounded like a crazy idea. However, I thought that the basic idea of the world being given a challenge to overcome a terrible evil and that its response matters is actually an idea that has turned up often over the centuries. Stories of those tests remain in our folk tales and myths, as well as our religions and even our movies. Jack the Giant Killer, David and Goliath, and Joan of Arc are stories that have lasted for hundreds of years. Modern movies of fighters of evil making the critical difference in the balance of the world range from the Hobbit, to James Bond's fighting Smersh, to Luke Skywalker fighting Darth Vader. The fighters often have someone or something at their sides GÇô Gandalf, The Force. In religious writing, it is God. "GǪthough I walk through the valley of death, Thou art with me.GÇ¥ We all grow up knowing that a test is important. Everyone who is reading this has survived tests of reading. We are being given a test as a society. How we respond to the shame of an affluent society where many experience hunger is a profound challenge. Like the AIDS crisis, the most effective response (in that case, developing new vaccines) is beyond most of us; however, while we waited for that, many found ways to respond to the human suffering. While we are waiting for a solution to end hunger, many in Eatonville are doing what they can to make a difference. Organizing a fund-raising campaign, making a raffle basket, donating meat, offering to butcher and wrap donated meat, sponsoring and participating in a fun run, sponsoring a barbecue, a postal food drive, and many more generous and creative responses. To every single one who participated in May's EFA Aid the Agency fund drive, many thanks for a job well done. To everyone who continues to be dedicated to feeding the hungry, don't give up. What you do really matters.
Ruth Ferris is a member of the Eatonville Family Agency Board.


Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Sign in to comment