More than 400 people took part in the “Hunger No More” Inter-faith Conference, held February 27-28 at St. Francis of Assisi Church in Raleigh. The event was sponsored by the Franciscan Coalition for Justice and Peace. It featured Reverend David Beckman, president of Bread for the World, a Christian organization advocating on behalf of the hungry in the United States and worldwide.
Speakers included Dr. William Whelan, Vice Chairman of Jesuit Volunteers International; Dr. Bill Chameides, Dean of the Nicholas School of the Environment at Duke University; Jill Staton Bullard, founding Executive Director of the Inter-Faith Food Shuttle; Gary Gay, Director of Food Distribution in the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Sr. Margaret Mary Kimmins, President Pro Tempore of the International Board of Directors for Franciscans International and President of the Franciscan Action Network.
Breakout sessions were held on global hunger, local hunger, climate change, vulnerable populations and advocacy. Religious leaders from a number of Protestant denominations joined Bishop Michael F. Burbidge for a roundtable discussion on what each faith group was doing to address hunger, locally and globally.
Sr. Joan Jurski, OSF, Diocesan Director of the Office for Peace and Justice, explained the programs at work in the Diocese that feed the hungry: Loaves and Fishes, Migrant Meals, CRS Rice Bowl. She said advocacy is a more difficult task, but added that “Just Faith”, a 30-week parish faith formation program with an emphasis on justice and advocacy, is catching on and will bear fruit. Reverend Beckmann noted that Bread for the World has worked with “Just Faith” and developed a curriculum for Protestant churches as well.
Most of the participants agreed that advocacy is one area that requires more effort and initiative. At the conclusion of the roundtable, Megan Nerz, Director of the Franciscan Coalition, suggested a steering committee be considered to explore the establishment of a North Carolina Hunger Coalition, which would advocate on behalf of the hungry.
Above: Attendees at Hunger No More Conference held at St. Francis Catholic Church which focused on causes and cures for hunger.
Below: Empty bowls placed in front of the altar following Oxfam Hunger Dinner that opened the conference.