State of Belief Tackles New Hunger Report

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(Washington, D.C.) On this Sunday’s “State of Belief,” The Interfaith Alliance Foundation’s show on Air America Radio, Reverend Welton Gaddy debunks the latest Department of Agriculture hunger report. Also, Welton asks whether non-violence is still an option in an age of terrorism.

The U.S.D.A. released its annual report on hunger this week, which found that 35 million Americans have trouble providing food for their families. The good news is that the number of hungry Americans dropped by three million over the past year, but the U.S.D.A. would like you to believe that “hunger” has been eliminated completely. For the first time, the report does not use the word hunger; instead it refers to people with “very low food security.”

Reverend David Beckmann, president of Bread for the World, a Christian advocacy group for the world’s hungry people, expresses frustration at the new report. “It was driven by political considerations,” he says. “People in the Bush administration do not like to talk about hunger. I find it abominable that the government has abandoned this word because it is emotive.”

The federal government’s policy towards the hungry has been promising and disappointing, according to Beckmann. On the one hand, the federal government expanded the number of Americans eligible for food stamps in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. However, the Bush administration’s latest budget has cut food programs by a combined $1.2 billion.

Welton also considers whether non-violence is a viable philosophy in a world gripped by terrorism. Author David Cortright, a Gandhi scholar and peace activist, thinks so. “Non-violence is actually a very powerful weapon,” he says. Cortright points to several examples, from the fall of communism to the civil rights movement, where non-violence successfully spurred social change.

Arun Gandhi, Mahatma Gandhi’s grandson, tells Welton that non-violence can help end terrorism through cultural understanding. “Why are people becoming terrorists?” he asks. “We need to bridge the misunderstanding between them and us, which is difficult when our government uses violence as a solution”