Just Love: Call to Action
“We can put the lid on hunger”
Young People’s Ministries and Just Love of the Mountain Sky Conference is challenging you and your youth group to put a lid on hunger this Lenten season! We’re inviting youth groups across the conference to raise money and collect food items for their local community food bank or pantry. Youth Groups that register to compete will have a chance to win a 9-Square In The Air game kit. Groups can register at https://mtnsky-reg.brtapp.com/JustLovefooddrive or contact Amdanda Daniell at firstname.lastname@example.org or Court VonLindern at email@example.com. Youth groups will have the option to submit their pounds or dollars raised weekly, or at the end of the competition.
“A Crisis Within a Crisis”
Food insecurity is being called “a crisis within a crisis.” As the nation recently reached the milestone of over 450,000 deaths related to the Coronavirus, it was also reported that “More than 50 million people living in America, including 17 million children, were likely to experience food insecurity by the end of the 2020. That amounts to 1 in 6 Americans and 1 in 4 children — an increase of nearly 50 percent over last year.” This, according to Feeding America, the country's largest anti-hunger organization.
In June, 2020, the Mountain Sky Conference held a fund-raiser that collected over $8,000 for Feeding America affiliates and the Montana Food Bank Network. Eight months later, the need continues to grow, as we all witness in our local communities, calling for the people of the Mountain Sky Conference to respond one again.
Food Bank of the Rockies, the largest hunger-relief organization in the Rocky Mountain region reported it distributed more than 100 million pounds of food in 2020. With the COVID-19 pandemic increasing food insecurity across Colorado and Wyoming, Food Bank of the Rockies said it distributed 43% more food last year than in 2019 when 71.5 million pounds were distributed.
Montana Food Bank Network (MFBN) recently released Voices of Montana: COVID-19 Edition report that illustrates the impact of COVID-19 and the resulting economic downturn on hunger in Montana. Data were collected through surveys of individuals seeking food assistance at MFBN’s partner agencies and programs across the state. 70% of adults reported a loss of income due to reduced hours, furlough or job loss. Additionally, more than 40 percent reported receiving food from a food pantry for the first time.
The Salt Lake Tribune reports that “Before the pandemic, the Utah Food Bank provided the state’s residents about 2 million pounds of food a month. That has increased 300%, to 6 million pounds per month.” K-12 districts are passing out most of the additional supply.
Wyoming News reported that unemployment in Wyoming remains higher than in past years, though the reported unemployment rate is lower than in many surrounding states. Still, from Sept. 16-Oct. 12, 11% of Wyoming households with children reported they “sometimes or often” did not have enough food, according to a report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, a national charity dedicated to children’s wellbeing. One food bank reports that “staff and volunteers are seeing new faces, as hard economic times stretch on. “People are dropping their pride and ego and saying ‘we need help. We can’t do it all,’” volunteer Steve Burns said.
“Just Love: Live in Faith, Act with Courage, Work for Justice” in an ongoing initiative of the Mountain Sky Conference/Community Engagement/Mission Team. Just Love programs and initiatives are designed to provide opportunities for the local church to engage in their communities through mission.
“The Bible reveals that, from the earliest times, God’s faithful community has been concerned about hunger and poverty. Helping those in need was not simply a matter of charity, but of responsibility, righteousness, and justice (Isaiah 58:6-8; Jeremiah 22:3; Matthew 25:31-46).” UMC Food Justice Resolution 2016