The Common Good

From Numbness to Action: Ending World Hunger

My child ate today. Breakfast was pancakes and sausage.

Mary Catherine Hinds with family at the Shallotte, N.C., CROP Hunger Walk. Photo via RNS, courtesy Mary Catherine Hinds.

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Walking to school I said, “If you don’t like the leftover hamburger that I put in your lunchbox, just buy something from the cafeteria. You have plenty of money in your account.”

Tonight we will have tacos, but if I am too tired to cook, we will order pizza.

I am grateful that I can feed my child every day.

I work for Church World Service — an international hunger-fighting agency and nearly every day I am confronted with a story of hardship or statistics about hunger and poverty. When I am not preparing a talk for a CROP Hunger Walk meeting, I am reading about a CWS program to provide blankets or seeds and tools to struggling people somewhere in the world. Each week brings news of a new disaster or crisis.

I have a secret: Sometimes I am kind of numb to the whole thing. Desensitized. Maybe it is a coping mechanism.

This morning, in preparation for a hunger presentation, I read through a skit that told the firsthand experiences of a rich child alongside that of a poor child. In the middle of the reading, all of a sudden, the numbness wore off and I felt the grief of knowing that some children will not play, have a mom to walk them to school, or know if they will eat today.

As I read it, I pictured the face of my own well-fed child and then imagined the boys and girls I have seen at his school who don’t have moms and dads with resources to make pancakes in the morning. Tears welled up in my eyes and I had to stop reading.

It is not right. It is not just. It is not necessary.

We have enough food in this world for everyone. There is enough for all. It is unacceptable that a child in my son’s class will go hungry this weekend without a free lunch from school. It is a travesty that before you finish reading this missive a child will die somewhere in this world because she doesn’t have enough to eat.

During these days of partisan politics, I am enlivened by the fact that one thing we all agree on is that no one should go hungry. In my 10 years working with CWS I have seen proclamations from mayors and governors from both sides of the aisle declaring “CROP Hunger Walk Seasons.”

On Sundays in the fall and spring, I witness diverse faith traditions stepping out of their individual houses of worship and walking together through city streets and parks all over this state to raise awareness and funds for the cause of ending hunger.

In my moments of grief for those who hunger, I give thanks that I can make a difference and I find tremendous hope in the people of all faiths, political persuasions, ages and colors who are ending hunger, one step at a time.

Mary Catherine Hinds is a wife and mother of two children and the senior field director for the Southeast U.S. for CWS. CWS is best known locally for its CROP Hunger Walk community fundraising events. Via RNS.

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