By Fidel "Butch" Montoya
One of the most disheartening stories that I have read was in The New York Times April 18th. It was a story about hunger – “Across Globe, Empty Bellies Bring Rising Anger” was the headline on the story. You need to read it if you can.
Hunger is so bad that actual food riots are breaking out in the streets Port-au-Prince, Haiti and in other countries. The price of the country’s main food staples have risen almost 45% according to the report. With such high food costs, there simply is not enough food in Haiti to feed the people, so that the only recourse left for some people is to battle against the police and even army soldiers demanding that their government feed the hungry masses.
For the life of me, I cannot comprehend the pain and hunger they must feel that is so bad that even the prime minister of the government had to flee the country. And it is not just in Haiti, it is a world wide crisis as never seen in the history of humankind.
In Haiti, the high food prices are creating the scarcity of beans, corn, and rice. These products are so readily available in our country it is hard to conceive people fighting over them. Here at home, even as food prices begin to rise, our pantry is full of food products and plenty of beans, rice, and corn.
Marc Lacy, The New Times reporter spoke to unemployed father with several children and the interview is riveting to read about his personal dilemma and left me feeling very guilty and sad.
The father said he gave each one of his children two spoonfuls of rice apiece and that was their only meal of the day. Two spoonfuls of rice each and the worse part, they went without food the next day!
Lacy reports that the father had not eaten himself feeling the aches and pains of hunger in his belly. But no doubt, the greatest pain this father felt was what he told The Times reporter. “They look at me and say, ‘Papa, I’m hungry,’ and I have to look away. Its humiliating and it makes you angry.” (Stop here and let that sink in…..)
Here in the United States, while we decide to buy “hybrid vehicles” which consume “biofuels,” essentially fuel made from corn and other food products, people in other countries around the world are rioting, dying of hunger, and simply downcast in hopelessness. As we divert more and more food products to fuel, there is no doubt we will continue to contribute to a growing crisis.
While the environment and global warming are real problems as well, we need to be as concerned about world hunger and poverty as well. Unfortunately we have painted ourselves into a corner because both issues are equally important.
As I read news stories on how people are suffering from the hunger pains because there is not enough food to eat, I am grateful for our country. And yes, we cannot forget there are thousands of homeless families and families affected by our troubled economy that go to sleep hungry every night, we better listen to those hunger gurgles as well.
For many of us, when we get hunger flashes, we drive into a fast food restaurant, stop at the grocery store full of food, or open a refrigerator full of fresh food.
But beyond feeling guilty which does nothing to change the worst food crisis in the world, it is time our government hears the cries of the hungry from around the world. Here we still pay farmers not to plant certain foods…and we pay millions in subsidies so that fields will lie idle.
Farm subsidies and food practices must be addressed with sound policy decisions not only from our government, but from the United Nations as well. This is a worldwide dilemma and crisis.
With economic uncertainty creeping slowly across our country, we have already seen food prices starting to rise here. In some countries because of ridiculously high food prices, people are beginning to horde food in their pantries.
While our presidential candidates bicker over whether or not people are “bitter” or whether someone was “under fire” when they landed at an airport years ago is irrelevant. Who cares what a preacher may have preached from his pulpit and if we believe the news reports which have taken many if not all of these sermons out of context, what does it matter?
We have many perplexing issues in our country like comprehensive immigration reform, the recession, and the war in Iraq just to mention three priorities for the next President to work on.
But we must not turn our attention away from a crisis that is going to affect every economy and well being of every nation in the world. Where is the debate on our responsibility as a compassionate world leader?
In The Times there is a picture that accompanies the article of people picking their way across the dump looking for something to eat or to feed their families.
World hunger and poverty are dangerous factors that can explode into a worldwide crisis beyond what we have ever experienced, and if you think it not going to affect you, think again.
The old cliché, “Hijo, finish your vegetables, there are children in China that are starving and would love to finish you food,” is becoming truer and truer everyday and we don’t even realize it.
** Convoy of Hope responding to worldwide food crisis
Worldwide, food prices are escalating to previously unimaginable levels.
Though it's also affected by price increases, Convoy of Hope continues to move forward with ongoing worldwide feeding programs, which feeds more than 12,000 people each day.
For the second year in a row, Convoy of Hope just received International Food Relief Partnership grant from U. S. Agency for International Development for feeding programs in Haiti and El Salvador.
To learn more about Convoy of Hope in its response to the worldwide food crisis, see
Fidel "Butch" Montoya
H. S. Power & Light Ministries - Latino Faith Initiative
Denver, Colorado 80212