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10/22/97 Global economy could help hungry more, hunger lobbying group says

WASHINGTON (BP)–A global economy of $24 trillion a year has not eliminated hunger or poverty for a sizable portion of the world’s population, an anti-hunger advocacy organization said on the annual World Food Day.
“The market-oriented global economy creates great wealth for a few, provides benefits and reduces hunger for many, while increasing hunger, misery and insecurity for many others,” Bread for the World said in its annual hunger report.
About 1.3 billion people, nearly one-fourth of the world’s population, live on incomes equivalent to less than a dollar a day, according to the report. About 841 million people in developing countries, one person in five, are chronologically undernourished, it reported. Also, about 34 million Americans live in homes threatened by hunger, the report said.
“We’re not taking full advantage of the opportunities the global economy provides to alleviate hunger and poverty,” Bread for the World President David Beckmann said in a written release.
Bread for the World, a Christian citizen network that lobbies Congress in support of anti-hunger measures, proposed 10 ways to make the global economy work better for the hungry, including governments providing safeguards for workers when expanding international trade and for people purchasing and investing in ways that reward socially responsible companies.
While he sees Bread for the World’s proposals as “encouraging governments to make human compassion a motivational force in policy,” a Southern Baptist hunger specialist said Christians need to fulfill their scriptural responsibility, especially in response to the federal government’s reform of the welfare system.
“While welfare reform has been drastically needed, we must take care that alternative opportunities are made available for those in need,” said Steve Nelson, director of hunger concerns for the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission. “I certainly applaud the welfare-to-work programs that are being promoted. However, the needs of the elderly and handicapped cannot be ignored.
“In this regard, Christians must be ready to stand in the gap through ministry evangelism,” Nelson said. “We’ve got to be ready to offer a cup of cold water as well as the bread of life. This is part of our Christian mandate. We have got to develop a passion for compassion. Too often we donate a few canned goods or give to hunger charity to salve our conscience rather than realizing that we are capable of making a real difference.
“Hunger is a sin problem that can only be alleviated through changed hearts,” Nelson said. “There’s plenty for everyone if those of us who have been blessed will willingly share. This can be accomplished through church and local food pantries and by giving to the Southern Baptist World Hunger Fund.”
All of the contributions to the Southern Baptist fund are used for hunger ministry overseas and in the United States.
The 10 proposals Bread for the World offered in releasing its report Oct. 16 are:
— “Give priority to the needs of hungry and poor people when making economic decisions.
— “Complement markets with government and civic action to ensure secure livelihoods for all.
— “Include hungry and poor people in decisions that affect their lives.
— “Coordinate policies among nations to foster full employment and other social goals.
— “Promote international trade — with safeguards for labor rights, the environment and food security.
— “Foster food security through more liberal agricultural trade coupled with sound agricultural policies and safety nets.
— “Encourage responsible investing through policies that are good for businesses, workers and consumers.
— “Focus the World Bank and other international financial institutions on reducing poverty and make them accountable to the low-income communities they affect.
— “Relieve the debts of poor-country governments committed to reducing poverty and expand foreign aid programs that help hungry and poor people.
— “Exercise our influence as responsible citizens, consumers, employers, workers and investors to make the world economy work for everyone.”
World Food Day was started in 1979 by an organization of the United Nations for the purpose of focusing attention on hunger issues.