The chicken runs across the field as a group of students follow it closely behind. Searching the farmland junior education major Kathryn Groseclose
picks up pieces of wood, hoping to start a fire. The temperatures are freezing, electricity unattainable and the team’s success is dependent upon the members’ ability to catch, pick and prepare their own food.
This is the World Hunger Relief Farm in Elm Mott, Texas — a 42 acre plot of land near Waco where visitors and workers learn farming techniques and are exposed to world hunger.
Over the Christmas break, Groseclose was one of six students who spent a week on the farm as a part of Go Now Missions with the Texas Baptists.
“It completely changed my perspective on food production,” she said of the experience.
Like most people who feel separated from the issue, Groseclose never
realized the importance of being an advocate for the cause.
“Before I went to the farm, I thought world hunger was not something tangible that I could change,” she said. “I just felt sorry for people suffering.”
The farm is just one of many organizations raising awareness of the impact of starvation and malnutrition. While food insecurity is clearly a problem in Third World countries, the issue is also in “our neighborhood,” advocates said.
More than 36 million Americans are food insecure, which is largely related to poverty. Texas has the highest percentage of people affected in the nation, and more than 3 million children are on food assistance programs.
“World hunger is a reality that we can act on. We can make changes,” Groseclose said. “It can start with paying attention to our own communities and its needs, and closely watching how we shop. Sometimes we buy products where the people who are doing the laboring aren’t getting paid
for the work they do.”
On the farm, Groseclose and the other students were educated on food needs and practices around the world and the responsibility each person has to end hunger. The team cleaned and maintained vegetables from the garden, milked goats, took care of the livestock and went without running water and electricity. Because of her one – week stay, Groseclose said she now has a better understanding of food production worldwide and how to be
proactive domestically. She said ways to do this include growing your own garden, buying from local farmers and paying close attention to nutrition labels. She adds that consumers shouldn’t eat items with more than five ingredients or ones that they cannot read.
The farm helps visitors like Groseclose learn financial responsibility and to develop resourceful consumer patterns. Groseclose encourages students to visit the farm.
“Waco is one of the most poverty – stricken cities in the state and highly ranked in the nation,” she said. “There are many ways to get plugged in and serve, and also be educated.”
Development Director for the farm, Dale Barron, said there are one – time,
weekly and special event opportunities to serve and learn on the farm.
“We address personal spending habits, fair trade practices, nutrition, the importance of resource conservation and how individual behavior affects the environment,” Barron said. “We teach about being good stewards of God’s creation and taking care of the resources he’s given us.”
More information about the farm is available at http://www.worldhungerrelief.org.
Students can help support the World Hunger Relief Farm by giving to the Texas Baptist Offering for World Hunger. Opportunities are available through the Baptist Student Ministries. Students can also serve on a local level by volunteering at Helping Hands or Hope for the Hungry.
Junior psychology major Miles O’Neil helps organize groups of volunteers to go to Hope for the Hungry weekly.
“We go and play with the children and … meet their relational needs,” O’Neil said.
He believes meeting people’s physical needs was a ministry of Jesus, and Christians are called to do the same.
“Jesus relates to the oppressed, poor and weak,” O’Neil said. “The only reason we have anything is the Lord. He is our source.”
O’Neil believes Christians should want to meet the needs of hungry people because it is a way to show them love.
He said, “It should be something we delight in. Loving … out of joy is the essence of our faith.”