CHURCH AND SOCIETY
Most of us rarely spend a day with nothing to eat. Yet hunger is an everyday fact of life for an epidemic number of families. More than 800 million people in the world go hungry. Along with dramatic scenes and statistics of starvation in developing countries, lack of food and malnutrition is a problem even in our neighborhoods.
In the United States, 12 million children live in households where people have to skip meals or eat less to make ends meet. That means one in ten households in the U.S. is living with hunger or are at risk of hunger. That number grows weekly.
In Ohio, over one and a half million persons--over 13% of the population--are living in poverty and experiencing “food insecurity.” Over 300,000 Ohioans are chronically hungry, 1/3rd of which are below the age of eighteen with one in six children going to bed hungry or at risk of hunger every night.
Poverty, of course, is largely responsible for hunger and unemployment—and underemployment -- is the leading cause of poverty. The state’s unemployment rate recently hit a 25-year high of 9.4% as job losses continued in both manufacturing and services. This was up 8.8 percent in just a month.
How do we as Christians respond to these, our neighbors-in-need?
The Hunger Network in Ohio (HNO) provides a unique ministry of advocacy for the “poorest of poor” in this state, including those regularly deprived of food and malnourished.
This is a program within congregations designed to remind us of the poor and needy at mealtimes. It encourages individuals and families to engage in a daily devotional exercise of collecting 2 cents per person for shared hunger ministries as they give thanks for their own food. Some people also include their snacks.
Each household keeps an offering container for the “2 Cents-A-Meal” offering in the kitchen or on the dining table. One suggested ritual prior to the mealtime blessing, one member of the family may begin with, “Let not the needy, O Lord, be forgotten.” Then the rest respond, “Nor the hope of the poor be taken away.” Numerous other options are available, adaptable to each family, each person who leads the prayer, and each meal.
Each congregation designates a Sunday of the month to receive the 2 Cents-A-Meal offering from their households. This is usually done at the time of the offertory. One cent is to be given to a local hunger ministry in which the parish is involved and/or supports. The other one-cent is sent to the judicatory to be forwarded to the Hunger Network in Ohio.
What is Hunger Network in Ohio?
The Hunger Network in Ohio is dedicated to eradicating hunger. Our unique mission is to change conditions causing hunger—in Ohio and around the world. Working with other hunger-related human service and advocacy organizations, we equip people to act individually and in concert on hunger and poverty issues. Founded in 1978, Hunger Network in Ohio informs concerned citizens about hunger and helps individuals and groups work on immediate and long-term solutions to hunger. Participants receive publications, have opportunities for education on policy issues, and are given tools to become public advocates for those who are hungry.
We are governed by a board of trustees from The West Ohio Conference of The United Methodist Church and Episcopal Dioceses of Ohio and Southern Ohio, Northeastern and Southern Ohio Synods of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in American, Eastminster Presbytery of the Presbyterian Church (USA), and Central Southeast Association of the Ohio Conference of the United Church of Christ.
Rev. Ashley Steele
Chair, Church & Society Committee
The East Ohio Conference Office:
located in North Canton, OH,
near Akron-Canton Airport.
8800 Cleveland Ave. NW.
North Canton, OH 44720
Local: (330) 499-3972
Toll Free: (800) 831-3972
Fax: (330) 499-3279
Monday through Friday
8:30 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.
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