Friends in Deed, an inter-faith agency that provides supportive services to meet basic human needs to homeless and at-risk neighbors in Pasadena, California.
The Harvest Food program at the United Methodist Church of Thousand Oaks, California, a closed food pantry providing healthy food to families since 2012.
Crisis Control Ministry, a nonprofit that since 1973 helps people in crisis and dealing with unfortunate circumstances in Forsyth County, North Carolina, meet their food, shelter, and medicine needs.
Food Bank of Central & Eastern North Carolina, serving a network of more than 800 partner agencies such as soup kitchens, food pantries, shelters, and programs for children and adults.
The above are all local agencies supported by local CROP Hunger Walks that I was honored to visit in 2018.
Every time I am invited to present on the impact of CROP Hunger Walks in rural and urban communities across Latin America and the Caribbean, I ask my CWS colleagues to visit local agencies that Walks support. One of the reasons I do it is because many people outside the U.S. don’t even imagine there is hunger in America!
Every food bank and social services agency I visit is an opportunity to learn first-hand how the faith community, civil society and people of good faith come together to respond to hunger in their own cities and counties! Providing a hot meal, access to nutritious food and advocating on their behalf with local and even state governments.
Meeting them is admiring them! Each visited agency has also given me the chance to meet the incredible people running these efforts. Volunteers, staff (many times former clients) and even board members. Catholics, Methodists, Presbyterians, Disciples of Christ, United Church of Christ members, Lutherans, Jews and more. People from all faith backgrounds working together so that no one goes to bed hungry that night, that week, in their community.
I heard of the real difference made by the undesignated support these agencies receive from CROP Hunger Walks because it allows them to direct funds to critical areas of the organization that many donors simply don’t fund, or don’t fund enough.
I see so many core similarities with similar initiatives in Latin America that I cannot wait to share with partners, NGO colleagues and even family and friends when I am back home!
Their passion for their work, love for the people they serve and care for their dignity, their creativity and determination to multiply “loaves and fish” and overcome all kind of problems and obstacles, make U.S. and Latin American champions in the fight against hunger brothers and sisters, two arms of the same body.
Today, as all those who serve the hungry and other vulnerable groups in the U.S. and Latin America are adjusting their lives, routines and work plans in view of the COVID-19 pandemic, I wanted to share these lines as a gesture of profound admiration and gratitude to the incredible story behind the local food banks and social service agencies behind each CROP Hunger Walk.
Martin Coria is the Regional Director of CWS Latin America and the Caribbean.