Hunger and Our Lutheran Faith
Feeding the hungry is an integral part of our Christian faith. Throughout the Bible, feeding the hungry is understood as part of a just society. In Isaiah, the prophet writes, "Is not this the fast that I choose...to share your bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into your house, when you see the naked, to cover them, and not to hide yourself from your own kin?" (58:7). In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus tells his followers that their response to their neighbors in need constitutes their response to Jesus. The gospel reads, "Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me" (Matt 25:40).
Throughout the gospels, Jesus feeds the hungry and heals the sick. He instructs his disciples that this is what it means to follow him.
Luther's reaction to giving to one's neighbor in his time also informs our response to need in our community. Luther disagreed with the way that the church of his time romanticized poverty as a means for people to give to the poor and thus gain a higher standing with God. In such a system, upward ascension would not be possible without the existence of poverty. Luther proclaimed that because Christ frees us from sin and death, we are freed to care for all of God's people.
For us today, this means that we cannot truly care for those who are hungry without asking why they are hungry. Hunger is a complex systemic issue that is closely tied to housing, wages, climate change, race, gender, and more. If we do not examine the systemic roots of hunger, our neighbors will remain hungry now and into the future.
Hunger in Minnesota
1 in 9 Minnesotans faced hunger in 2020, including 1 in 6 children. That's a total of 630,000 Minnesotans. The number of people experiencing food insecurity is only projected to increase. The pandemic has exacerbated existing racial disparities related to hunger; Black, Hispanic, Asian, and Indigenous families are twice as likely to experience hunger as white families. In fiscal year 2018, 529,000 Minnesotans, including 150,000 children under age 18, still had family incomes below the official poverty threshold in 2018 (about $25,100 for a family of four in MN).
Affordable housing is the number one barrier to putting food on the table. Other prominent causes of hunger and poverty include homelessness, especially youth homelessness, and predatory lending (payday loans). Working to prevent hunger means working on these root causes. Learn more about Lutheran Advocacy-MN's work on these issues here.