Touchstone Story: Feeding the Hungry

Lions have long been deeply involved in the global effort to relieve hunger.

It’s a big fight: poor nutrition contributes to the death of more than 3 million children every year, and close to a billion people go hungry each day. To ease such misery, Lions battle hunger daily in their own communities.

Some distribute holiday food baskets; others volunteer at local food pantries or organize soup kitchens for the homeless. Typically, the help comes not from a distance, but close-up and personal. In Baggao, Philippines, Lions bring food to Taytay Elementary School to ensure impoverished students get a hot meal. In India, members of the Howrah Greater Lions Club bring food to elderly people “who don’t have anyone to look after them,” explained club member Pawan Kumar Berry.

Many Lions know firsthand what it feels like to suffer from lack of food. “I think hunger is the number one catastrophe in the world,” said Past International President Eberhard J. Wirfs, who served in that post from 2009 to 2010. Born in Germany during the Second World War, Wirfs hasn’t forgotten the post-war years in a shattered country, when he and his family were “hungry and barely able to get by.”

Because hunger can stunt a child’s ability to learn and grow, Lions work particularly hard to help hungry youngsters. Although free school lunch programs help U.S. children during the week, the Hamilton Lions Club in Indiana, USA—worried that local children were going hungry on the weekends—threw its support behind the Boomerang Backpack program, which sends students, who might otherwise not have enough to eat, home on Friday nights with backpacks filled with food.

“It makes me feel really good and happy to know that they’re not going hungry” on non-school days, said Hamilton Lion Jean Griffin Howard.

Thousands of miles away, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Gerard Mulimbi, a member of the Kinshasa Tshangu Mwinda Lions Club, echoed the same sentiment. Through his group’s efforts, he said, “We are helping children who are suffering from malnutrition.”

There are many fronts in the battle. Lions in Kenya are fighting famine in Africa with food packages. When war in Lebanon drove many people from their homes, Lions opened a “charity restaurant” that fed a thousand people a day.

In South Africa, Lions have been fighting to reduce hunger for more than 40 years by providing meals to impoverished and hungry people, many of whom either have HIV-AIDS or are children who have lost parents to the disease.

Although victory over hunger remains far in the future, Lions say the fight is worth waging.  With the backpack program, said Indiana teacher Randy Shoemaker, “We’re fighting childhood hunger. And if everybody comes together and we pool resources, then the children will win.”

Join us for the Worldwide Week of Service to Fight Hunger, January 9-15, 2017. Start planning your hunger project today, and invite your community to change the world with you!

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