Above: Deacon Stephen Yates is a permanent deacon serving at St. Thomas More Catholic Church in Chapel Hill.
As Americans, we are about to enter the season of feasting. During Thanksgiving, Christmas, and other religious/national celebrations, most of our tables brim with food. For others, there will be hunger. After more than a decade of decline, world hunger has skyrocketed at an unprecedented rate, with more than 800 million people each night going to bed hungry. The impacts of the war in Ukraine and lingering effects of the pandemic have pushed us to the precipice of a hunger catastrophe in countries like Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Afghanistan, Nigeria and Yemen.
The number of those facing acute food insecurity worldwide has more than doubled since 2019 — from 135 million to 345 million. What can we do? First, we must acknowledge that no family deserves to go to bed hungry. As a father and grandfather, I cannot imagine the heartache of not being able to feed my grandchild. We must advocate for the highest funding levels possible for poverty-reducing international development and humanitarian assistance in 2023, and for the passage of the Global Food Security Reauthorization Act making its way through Congress. This bill would reaffirm the commitment of the United States to ending hunger and malnutrition globally.
And, we must look for ways to act locally because we don’t have to look far to find those in need of food, shelter and compassion, especially with inflation at historic highs. Supporting groups like the Food Bank of Central & Eastern North Carolina or Durham Community Food Pantry or Loaves & Fishes in Charlotte are good places to start. As Americans, we have an embarrassment of riches. As we gather to feast, let’s make sure the needs of others are met.