STORIES from the
National Council of Churches Poverty March 2003:

Advocating for systemic change…

St. Andrew's Lutheran Church,
A Bread for the World "Covenant Church" in Smithtown, New York

Like the old song says, walking a mile in somebody else's shoes challenges our perceptions like nothing else can. That was the idea Dennis Walker had in mind when his church held its annual "Hunger Meal" last fall.


Just before Thanksgiving each year, parishioners at St. Andrew's Lutheran Church in Smithtown, NY, put themselves into the shoes of hungry and poor people, if only for one night. Many families struggling to leave poverty behind stretch groceries further by making a sort of "hodge-podge" soup using whatever food is available. So participants in the Hunger Meal sat down to bowls of this soup, made with assorted canned vegetables and some fresh produce. Walker challenged diners to imagine how it would feel to extend a food budget like that more than once a year. "Many in the United States do not enjoy the high standard of living many assume is the rule in the wealthiest nation in the world," Walker said.


After finishing their meal, participants viewed Bread for the World's 2002 Offering of Letters video, Working from Poverty to Promise, and two skits about life as a Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) recipient. Then they wrote letters to their members of Congress, urging changes to TANF that will reduce poverty in our country.


The Hunger Meal participants then took up a collection which was matched by Thrivent Financial for Lutherans (TFL). TFL works to improve the quality of life of those in need by providing solutions that focus on financial security, wellness and caring for others. Between the collection and the matching gift, the Hunger Meal raised a total of $1,400 to help Bread for the World's advocacy efforts.


Bread for the World President David Beckmann heralded the gift as an "inspiration in uncertain times. The fight against hunger is blessed to have such faithful agents of hope."


St. Andrew's generous gift is part of its special relationship to Bread for the World as a Covenant Church. Covenant Churches play an important role in Bread for the World's mission by committing to integrate hunger concerns into the life of their congregation. Some churches give as much as $5,000, and others can afford only $50. What is important is the church's pledge to do what it can for hungry people.


Bread for the World Covenant Churches receive tools for worship and annual Offering of Letters kits. The Offering of Letters campaign focuses on issues related to domestic or international hunger in alternating years. To become a Bread for the World Covenant Church, contact Bread for the World's Church Relations staff at 1-800-82-BREAD, or visit click here.

From Bread for the World’s website and their February, 2003 newsletter.



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