Every day, 963 million people are hungry. That's up 115 million in the last six months because of rising food costs. Most Americans can't imagine this, but 1.4 billion people live on less than $1.25 a day. Almost a billion do not have access to clean water. And saddest of all, 26,000 children die every day from malnutrition, unclean water and diseases that are preventable by vaccines.
"That's why we care," Jigger Staby with Christ the King Lutheran Church said in an interview Tuesday after delivering 121 letters about world hunger to the local offices of U.S. Rep. John Salazar, D-Manassa and U.S. Sen. Michael Bennett, D-Colo.
For the last eight years, church members have made an Offering of Letters to be presented to congressional leaders under the auspices of Bread for the World. It's a national advocacy organization that urges U.S. leaders to end hunger in America and abroad.
"The idea this year is to lift the conversation about the political impact of foreign-development aid to the level of defense and diplomacy," Staby said. "We're still working under the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, when Kennedy was the president."
Staby felt that this year's focus on the process of foreign aid seemed nebulous to her until she found out that House Resolution 2139, which is about that very topic, was put on the congressional docket two weeks ago.
"This is not about dollars, but effective process," said John Condie, who co-chairs Christ the King's efforts on social ministry with Staby. "The idea is to spend less here and get more there."
Staby and Condie credit former church members Jim and Jane Marentette with starting Christ the King's program.
"They were the initial stimulus to get involved with Bread," Staby said. "They spearheaded the effort, including involvement with the national effort, including attending the annual World Hunger Conference. We're just trying to continue their legacy."
The goal is to help poor people grow enough food to feed themselves and their families - "a hand up, not a hand out," Staby said.
Both emphasized that this is an ecumenical campaign.
"This isn't a Lutheran thing but a Christian thing," Condie said. "We hope that other churches, or even local residents, will join us in our efforts."