Students across the nation take part in the Broken Bread Poverty Meal, including one event with lawmakers in Washington, D.C., to raise awareness about hunger, poverty, and AIDS. (INTERACTIVE)
October 16, 2007
Participants stand silently in line, waiting to receive their bowls of porridge during a Broken Bread Poverty Meal at World Vision's Day of Prayer on Oct. 1. The event is intended to resemble a food distribution at a refugee camp, and participants are invited to discuss ways to advocate for children and families who are affected by hunger, poverty, and AIDS. © 2007 Laura Reinhardt/World Vision
Currently, more than 850 million people around the world are suffering from severe hunger.
Recognizing the gravity of this crisis, students across the country will commemorate the 26th annual World Food Day on Tuesday, Oct. 16, by hosting a Broken Bread Poverty Meal on their college campuses and with members of Congress on Capitol Hill. Sponsored by World Vision's Acting on AIDS team, it's an event to raise awareness and inspire action for hungry children and families who often also are affected by extreme poverty and the AIDS crisis — all of which combine to create a vicious cycle of despair and suffering.
Compassion Through Experience
The goal of Broken Bread is to help participants experience firsthand what it feels like to be caught up in such a cycle. They're encouraged to fast for up to a day prior to the event, and when they arrive, they're asked to stand silently in a line, where they are given a simple meal of porridge. It's an experience similar to a food distribution at a refugee camp. The porridge for the events is a nutritionally fortified corn-soy blend used in food aid distributions and donated by the North American Millers' Association.
Cards are distributed to each participant, which contain compelling, real-life stories of children and families devastated by hunger, poverty, and AIDS. After reading their cards and eating the porridge silently for several minutes, students reflect on the experience through discussion and prayer, which helps them confront the overarching question of how to respond to what they have learned.
"There are simple things we can do to fight problems like these that seem overwhelming," says Jyl Hall, World Vision's Acting on AIDS manager. "People affected by AIDS often live in developing nations where hunger is a problem. When they have access to fundamental nutritional needs, they have a real chance to lead much healthier lives. By having [participants] experience the stories of those people firsthand, we hope to motivate action through prayer and advocacy."
INTERACTIVE: Advocating for the World's Hungry
Watch a video about global hunger and what students across the United States are doing to stand in solidarity with those who don't have enough to eat. Then, request information on how you and your church or college can advocate for hungry children.
Students who partake in a Broken Bread event are left with several ways to act on the experience. These advocacy options include:
- Participating in the 6,000 Challenge, which mobilizes students to raise $6,000 in funds and collect 6,000 signatures on a petition (.pdf) calling for reauthorization of the Global AIDS bill, with 10 percent of its funding set aside for orphans and vulnerable children;
- Calling for continued funding for in-kind food aid, which obtains and distributes food supplies to suffering populations;
- Hosting additional Broken Bread events at churches and other college campuses; and
- Starting new Acting on AIDS chapters on college campuses that don't yet have one.
"When we do this event, we want to give the participants a sense of something that most are not familiar with," says Katie Martin, who is organizing a Broken Bread event at Geneva College in Beaver Falls, Pa. "[We want to] invoke a feeling that encourages them to do something about these issues."
Broken Bread debuted last December at InterVarsity's Urbana conference, where 22,000 participated in the event. Since then, the meal has taken place at more than 90 colleges and churches. On World Food Day, about 60 campuses will host a meal, where students are invited to engage their hearts and faith for the sake of others who are suffering.
"We've modeled this event from Scripture," says Hall. "Broken Bread calls the church to the reality that when we follow the First Commandment, illustrated by the story where a boy gave his whole lunch of five loaves and two fish to Jesus, God is able to help us 'love our neighbor as ourselves' through Him."
Taking the Message to D.C.
The culmination of the national Broken Bread Poverty Meal will take place on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., where World Vision will co-sponsor an event with Sens. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., and Gordon Smith, R-Ore. This event will feature the same components — a porridge meal with stories of children affected by hunger, poverty, and AIDS — with a special emphasis on influencing public policy.
Some 200 participants are expected for the Capitol Hill event, about half of whom will be college students from across the country.
>> Read more
about the Broken Bread Poverty Meal.
Four Ways You Can Help
>> Pray for families and children around the world who suffer at the hands of hunger, poverty, and AIDS. Pray that advocacy events such as the Broken Bread Poverty Meal will draw attention to these crises and inspire people to take action on behalf of those who are suffering.
>> Give monthly to help feed hungry children around the world. Become a Child Crisis Partner.
>> E-mail World Vision's Acting on AIDS team for information about hosting a Broken Bread Poverty meal at your church or school.
>> Send a letter to your elected officials, asking them to continue funding for food aid.