hunger pain

Forgive me. This is a very unpatriotic post.  In fact, it may be my most dismal post ever.


This morning I learned that 2/3 of U.S. citizens are obese or overweight, and the numbers are steadily increasing.  Meanwhile, within the past month it was announced that the amount of people who suffer from extreme malnutrition or starvation throughout the world has surpassed 1 billion. 


I can’t imagine what 1 billion people would look like.  I definitely can’t imagine what it would be like to be malnourished or starving.  Sadly, I do relate to my fellow Americans in the experience of being overweight. 


One of the most heart breaking stories I ever heard about hunger was how the people of Haiti make and eat cakes made of mud in order to sooth their hunger pains.  It is so common, evidently, that people sell their mud cakes to each other in the market.


It is embarrassing to be an American. Because I am an American I am so privileged that I struggle about what is more ethical: Should I spend a lot of money on local and organic foods or spend less money on cheaper foods and choose solidarity with my poor brothers and sisters?  Because I am an American I see food wasted nearly every day and live in the midst of abundance, while others suffer to the point of death because they have so little.  In the United States we even teach our children to use a potato or apple as a paint stamp and make crafts out of rice and beans.  I remember doing these immoral things as a child.


Obviously world hunger problems are extremely complicated.  Our trade systems are totally unjust.  The agriculture laws don’t make much sense in promoting the basic purpose of crops: to feed people.  I wonder how much quality crop land is used to grow fuel, cloth, sod, tobacco or animal feed. (This is why I was a vegetarian for a few years.)  There are infrastructure problems, global warming, land fights, war, and violence.  The issue of hunger is connected to nearly every other injustice that exists in today’s world. 


And then there’s Jesus, the Bread of Life.  He taught us how to have an open, Eucharistic table of inclusive Love and Life.  He taught us how to have faith in the multiplication of loaves when we’re generous and responding to the needs of others.  How many of His stories were about a banquet, a table, or food?  Wasn’t it in the breaking of the bread that his friends recognized Him? 


Christians, I don’t know what to do. It makes me all feel so helpless and overwhelmed.  I do know, however, that there are many organizations that I can support and activities I can partake in to increase awareness.  ( Free Rice Game  , Heifer Project International ,  Feed My Starving Children  , The Hunger SiteWorld Food Programme  , Bread for the World.)  And, I can pray. I know I must pray more. 


Jesus, Bread of Life, As I eat, help me behave justly.  As I give, help me love tenderly, As I speak, help me listen lovingly. Holy Eucharist, give food to all who are malnourished and starving.  Please give a hunger for justice for all who have plenty to eat. Amen.


Originally from Northeast Iowa, Sister Julia is a novice with the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration, based in La Crosse, Wisconsin.  Her love for God and God’s good world is manifested in her attempts to be an educator, a youth empower-er, an earth lover, and a peacemaker.  She works at an inner-city Catholic high school in Chicago.

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About Julia Walsh

Originally from Northeast Iowa, Sister Julia is a Franciscan Sister of Perpetual Adoration, based in La Crosse, Wisconsin. Her love for God and God's good world is manifested in her attempts to be an educator, a youth empower-er, an earth lover, and a peacemaker. She ministers in the Midwest.

3 thoughts on “hunger pain

  1. Julia,

    Thank you so much for your post. I agree with you in that it is so important to raise awareness and to act locally to engage and support current organizations and groups working to address this complicated issue.

    Furthermore, I would like to encourage you to participate in the upcoming NextGen retreat in which we will be addressing issues of food justice. See below for details.

    Thank you again for your post. I hope to interact with you again via the retreat! -Amy

    Call To Action NextGeneration Summer 2009 Retreat

    “What’s on The Table? Exploring and Engaging in the Food Justice Movement”

    When: Saturday, August 8, 2009 (day of service) Time – depending on location and Sunday, August 9, 2009 (day of reflection) Time – depending on location (Not available on this weekend? Choose your own weekend! See below.)

    Where: Participate where you live. This retreat is designed for participants to engage in activities over this weekend and/or another weekend that works better for you.

    Who: Participate with your local small faith sharing group; with a group of friends; with one other person, or by yourself. This is a self-directed retreat with suggestions for a day of service and a day of reflection. On Sunday, there will be an opportunity to check-in with other participants across the country during a nation-wide conference call. This call will be recorded so that you may listen at another time, should you choose to participate during another weekend.

    Why: Corresponding with the theme for the 2009 Call To Action National Conference: “Everyone at the Table: Rejoicing as People of God” (, this retreat offers an opportunity to explore social justice issues concerning food, including: equal access to healthy, organic foods, fairtrade,
    the importance of buying locally, food sustainability, the food crisis and issues of hunger.

    How: Because you will participate where you live, you have the opportunity to learn more about the food justice movement in your own community, city or region. Once you sign up, you and/or your group representative will receive a welcome/confirmation email and an email containing pre-retreat suggested readings and resources. As time gets closer you and/or your group representative will receive an email with a retreat schedule, materials, and other information needed to self-direct your own retreat.

    Sign up to participate in the 2009 NextGen Summer retreat:

    Contact Christine Haider at: and give her your name, email address, phone number as well as the small faith sharing group with whom you are participating (if applicable).

    Start brainstorming service opportunities in your area related to food justice.

    Share this announcement with others and encourage them to join you in participating.

  2. Hi Julia,

    I wanted to make sure you knew that the NextGen national, self guided retreat is going on this weekend. If you are interested in participating, please email Christine at

    If you are unable to participate in the full retreat, please consider joining us for a national call discussing issues of food justice on Sunday, August 9th at 11 PST/12 MST/1 CST/2 EST. We will be joined by a guest speaker, Faatma Mehrmanesh of Denver, CO who has been working as a self-described ‘food justice organizer’ for many years. The call in number and code for Sunday are: 218-339-2699; 231565.

    Please feel free to contact me with any questions but we would love for you to join us on the call. Peace!

    Amy Stenson

  3. Thank you for this Julia. It is so hard to know what is the right thing-re: what is the best way to act justly? Organic or solidarity? What would our brothers and sisters who we want to be in solidarity with, think of us abstaining from what they could only wish to have access to? Would they think us foolish for choosing poverty? Which is another issue-truly understanding what its like since poverty would be a choice for us where others have no choice. Its almost a luxury to have that choice. Wierd.

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