In early October, USDA’s Center for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships was honored to host a dozen Latino faith leaders to our “Tuve Hambre y Me Diste de Comer” (“For I was Hungry and You Fed Me”) consultation on improving Latino outreach. USDA studies show that 1 out of 4 Hispanic households in the US are food insecure and that this number is only growing. The situation is well-known among these leaders whose congregations and organizations are on the front lines of serving those threatened by hunger.
They shared their successful and challenging experiences feeding the hungry and promoting SNAP and other nutrition programs in their respective communities. Angel Gutierrez of Catholic Charities, shared how in Chicago they are able to provide food, access to social services, job training and educational programs through their WIC Food and Nutrition centers and through the Summer Food Service Program. In fact, they were able to increase the meals served to children during the summer months to 275,000 by partnering with 105 community sites last year. In addition, Ricardo Moreno of Bread for the World, offered insightful remarks by bringing the dialogue “back to the basics.” Moreno highlighted a need for the government to “communicate and produce resources at the level where people are.” Echoing this approach was Duke Storen, Food and Nutrition Service’s Director of Strategic Partnerships. Storen emphasized that the consultation served as a time of listening for USDA officials. The group also heard from Joshua DuBois, Executive Director of the White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships and Under Secretary Ed Avalos.
The morning session provided guests with information about USDA food assistance programs. Stimulating conversation continued into lunch, during USDA’s 2010 Hispanic Heritage Food Fiesta. The consultation wrapped up with hopeful reflections from invited leaders, who expressed their intention to continue empowering Latino families in their struggle against hunger. They also made commitments to expand outreach for USDA’s nutrition assistance programs.
To those who think that ending hunger is a daunting task and that the little steps made by individuals is just another drop in the bucket, it may be helpful to keep in mind that a drop can cause a ripple. That is exactly what these leaders are doing — creating small drops of change each day, and making a world of a difference to the lives around them.