By Pastor Paul Ostrem, Assistant to the Bishop, Southeastern Iowa Synod
Every weekday morning in Iowa more than 92,000 children get ready and leave their homes without eating. When they arrive at school they are fed breakfast through their school’s participation in Federal Nutrition Program. At lunchtime almost 379,000 Iowa children will receive lunch through the national School Lunch Program. These children are receiving nourishment that they might not otherwise receive, fueling their minds and bodies for learning. Nearly one in five households in the U.S. benefits from our government’s feeding and nutrition programs. Hunger is a real concern for many Iowans who cannot make ends meet.
Concern about hunger extends beyond Iowa to the global community. This month people from around the world will gather in Des Moines in celebration of the World Food Prize. They will discuss hunger issues facing our global community; topics like global food security, cutting edge agricultural techniques, and international efforts to feed those most vulnerable on our planet; perhaps most importantly they will educate and inspire youth. As an anti-hunger synod, we take note of their efforts and do all we can to continue to feed the world.
I encourage you to do two things: 1) Write to members of Congress urging them to maintain our federal nutrition programs and continue to adopt polices and programs that feed and nourish children and adults who struggle with hunger. Many of these programs are in jeopardy. Charitable programs (food banks, meals sites, food pantries) provide only one out of every 20 grocery bags that feed people in the United States. Federal nutrition programs provide the rest. Our local organizations and churches simply cannot make up that difference. 2) Consider attending the Vote to End Hunger event at Grand View University on Sunday, November 8, from 2:00pm – 4:00pm. Sponsored by Bread for the World (David Beckman will be present) and several denominational judicatories, this event will seek to place the issue of hunger squarely on the radar of candidates seeking elected office.
In these days when eyes are on Iowa as the World Food Prize is awarded and as presidential candidates parade across the state, encourage our federal, state, and local governments, schools, civic organizations, churches and faith communities to be unified and proactive in the fight against hunger.
You can write your legislators on this issue here.
You can register to attend the Vote to End Hunger Event in Des Moines here.
Pastor Paul Ostrem has served as an assistant to Bishop Michael Burk of the Southeastern Iowa Synod since January 1, 2009, where he coordinates the mobility of rostered leaders and the congregational call process, works with people in candidacy, and works with the Commission for Church in Society dealing in particular with the issues of hunger and poverty toward the goal of manifesting what it means to be an “anti-hunger synod”. Prior to coming to the bishop’s staff, he served parishes in Hanlontown and Preston, and as Senior Pastor at Zion Lutheran Church in Muscatine for twenty-one years. He has served on numerous not-for-profit boards including Lutheran Homes in Muscatine, Lutheran Services in Iowa and the Lutheran Services in Iowa Foundation.