Christians say food crisis worst in memory

By May 5, 2008

International (MNN) — It's being described as the perfect storm. The food crisis that's emerging around the world will affect every continent and every country, says a Christian organization that's dedicated to helping feed children around the world in Jesus' name.

Food for the Hungry's
Matt Panos says, "It's affecting us everywhere we work. It's becoming a slow-moving disaster. I think the Wall Street Journal actually called it the'silent tsunami.'"

Panos continues, "We've gotten reports from every country, every continent that we work in, that food prices have been higher than they've been in years, and they're pushing the poor to the very edge of their limits to be able to feed their children."

Panos says he has reports from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan, Bangladesh, Philippines and Nicaragua. He says basic foods like beans, rice and cooking oil are three times the cost they were a year ago. "Seventy-three percent of the population now in Nicaragua can't buy a basic food basket. That number was down to about 30 percent just a year ago."

According to Panos, the food crisis isn't only affecting the health of children. "In Bangladesh, in Sudan, in Ethiopia, people are having to take their kids out of school to go wait in long lines to get rice. So their undoing a lot of the development work that's been done over the years."

A lot has happened to affect food prices. The bio-fuel industry is buying food to burn for fuel. Demand is forcing prices higher, plus climatic conditions have reduced production. Panos says, "So what's happening is this perfect storm of high prices, not quite enough food and some of the economies around the world that are tied to the dollar are seeing a lot less buying power for their money. So what's happening is we've got much less ability to buy food for the poor, and the result is starvation."

Already economic-political conflicts have started because of the high price of food. "What is going to happen is there's going to be these small conflicts all over the world. They're not going to be in any one spot. We're going to see it in 20 countries, or 25 countries," says Panos.

Food for the Hungry is helping the rural poor to buy tools and seeds to re-establish crop production. In other areas, they're providing vouchers short-term. "Families will receive vouchers. They'll be able to go to a local marketplace and use the vouchers to buy food and food only. And then the people in the marketplace would be able to go to the Food for the Hungry offices and be reimbursed for cash. But that means we need cash from the American consumer public."

While all this is bad news, the good news is God is in control. Panos says, "Lack of food, our inability to grow in our fields all means that we need to depend on Him and look to Him for answers."

Since Food for the Hungry works with the local church, this will not only provide opportunities to help the needy, but help share the Gospel to those in need.

However, they can't help without additional funding. Since the dollar is weak overseas, even more money is needed to help meet the immediate need. Click here to help.

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