One in ten. In a worst-case scenario, that’s how many people around the globe are projected to go hungry this year, according to the United Nations.
“By the end of the year, as many as 12,000 people could die a day from hunger linked to COVID-19, potentially more than those perishing from the virus itself,” reported the news agency Bloomberg. That’s an increase of 80% in the number of people facing “crisis-level” hunger since last year, the article stated.
Meanwhile, American farmers are plowing under ready-to-harvest crops and dumping milk and eggs because, with restaurants and other businesses shuttered, there aren’t enough buyers. All this while people wait in day-long lines for a box of food that may last a week. In developing countries, many simply go without.
This is a We-Are-the-World moment. In 1985, when 46 super-stars like Tina Turner and Bruce Springsteen came together to record an album, they raised tens of millions of dollars to abate the effects of a devastating famine in Ethiopia. As a young teen, I vividly remember the skeletal pictures of starving children that flashed across the boxy television in our family’s living room and how my mom picked my brother and me up from our small church school one afternoon and drove us to the Fox Run Mall in nearby Newington, New Hampshire, to buy a copy of the hit record.
As someone who was raised on Amy Grant and Michael W. Smith, it’s the only mainstream album I remember my mom buying. Amazed to hear the husky voices of forbidden pop-stars pulsating from our living room speakers, my brother and I listened to the album a dozen times a day, pleased to do our part to relieve the suffering of people in a far off place.
Suffering isn’t so far off anymore. Maybe it wasn’t then. But even growing up in a single-parent family where our cupboards were sometimes stocked with government-issued blocks of American cheese and giant tins of peanut butter, we had plenty to eat.
This projects to be a tough winter. My last trip to the grocery store cost $374 – nearly a third more than usual. But hard as it is, we must remember those who will have it even harder. “Don’t forget to do good and to share with those in need,” the writer of Hebrews says (13:16 NLT). “These are the sacrifices that please God.”
In college I once ate dinner at the house of a professor who kept a basket in the center of her dining room table. Each time she and her husband – or their guests – sat down for a meal, they dropped a coin in the basket. When it was full, they donated the money to a local food bank and started again.
I can’t sing like Tina Turner. Probably you can’t either, but I can drop a coin in a basket. And if we all join our coins together – just like the voices of that super-star choir – we can abate a crisis.
Looking for places to send all that change? Here are a few of my favorite faith-based nonprofits feeding people around the world:
Compassion International, provides disaster relief to families affected by Covid-19
Food for the Hungry, provides food relief around the globe
Good Shepard Food Bank, distributes food to more than 400 food banks in Maine
Samaritan’s Purse, supports global families at risk through its hunger relief program
World Vision, the United Nations World Food Program’s biggest partner
Meadow Rue Merrill, author of the award-winning memoir, Redeeming Ruth, writes for children and adults from a little house in the big woods of mid-coast Maine. She is also the author of the Lantern Hill Farm picture book series, celebrating the holidays in a way that builds children’s faith. Connect at www.meadowrue.com