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Living Their Faith November 1, 2013

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“But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”  Luke 14: 13-14

The headline in today’s Oregonian tells the story “From hungry to even hungrier: Cuts to food stamp allotments mean those used to doing without will have to learn to do with even less”

The example of Bob and Janet Raes Bread for the World members and Oregon Faith Roundtable Against Hunger Conveners gives us hope.

Many Bread members have introduced their churches to JustFaith, an adult education program that explores the biblical prescription to heal our broken world and foster congregational and individual wholeness. The 24 weekly sessions are carefully planned for faith sharing that includes prayer, study, and immersion, and deepens the participants’ understanding of the biblical basis for advocacy. 

The Raes facilitated the program at West Linn Lutheran in Oregon and saw how it transformed lives. 

The immersion part of the program helps break down invisible barriers that hide suffering in the world. Bob and Janet recalled how simply listening to a homeless couple’s experience opened up a new world to their group. The homeless couple told a story of selling bracelets on the sidewalk with their dog and feeling that they weren’t treated with dignity. A passerby offered them money to feed their dog, but ignored them as people. The message to the couple was that the dog deserved compassion, but they did not.

“Our groups said ‘we are going to really see people,'” said Janet. “Some ride the bus now and that has just changed them.”  Their congregation sponsored 3 months of rent to transition a homeless family into stable housing, and spent the time to help them move in and listen to their goals. Bob and Janet know that compassion is relational.

Through JustFaith, participants learn about both charity and advocacy—the latter is often harder for churches to embrace. “People are so allergic to the word ‘advocate’—instead of advocating we say we are ‘seeking justice,'” said Bob. JustFaith has helped their church to take a deeper look at the root causes of hunger and write letters as part of Bread for the World’s yearly Offering of Letters campaign, which asks Congress to create programs and policies that end hunger and poverty.

Even though participants in JustFaith are a small subset of any congregation, as other parishioners see the group transform it leads to changes in the church. “It’s an invasive species,” said Janet, with a smile.

In August Bob and Janet Raes, and others from the OFRAH and faith-based anti-hunger communities, met with Congressman Kurt Schrader’s office to advocate against any cuts to the food stamp program. Among their many activities, the Raes volunteer in a food pantry three times a week and shared many real-life examples, underscoring the fact that reductions in anti-hunger programs are not abstract. Real families suffer from real cuts to food stamps.

Reprinted from Bread for the World’s http://blog.bread.org. Written by Robin Stephenson, National Lead Social Media / Senior Regional Organizer at Bread for the World, and Portland Metro OFRAH Convener

AMERICAN WINTER: ONE STEP AWAY October 4, 2013

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Find a group of five kids. One of them is hungry. 23% of our Oregon children live below the federal poverty level.

658,000 of us Oregonians – our neighbors – live in poverty. That’s equal to double the combined populations of Salem and Eugene.

Behind these statistics are real people with real stories.

The filmAmerican Winter, follows the personal stories of eight middle-class families in Portland who called 211 seeking help. The Great Recession may technically be over but many middle-class families haven’t recovered.

Recovery means having food, shelter, electricity, a chance, a hope.

If we personally are not one step away, one paycheck way from needing assistance from our church or a public structure, then somebody we know is. Somebody we know is one paycheck away from becoming one of the 17% struggling below the federal poverty level.

OFRAH believes that you don’t have to be a person of faith to be poor and hungry, but because we are people of faith we need to care.

OFRAH co-presented American Winter with Oregon Center for Public Policy. OCCP searches for solutions that benefit all Oregonians, but always with a special focus on the interests of the low-income.

OFRAH and OCCP believe that the safety net cushions the fall of the poor and hungry. We believe that government plays a necessary and positive role in weaving the safety net. Well-funded public structures are vital in giving Oregonians a helping hand to get back on their feet.

Hunger is one huge problem made up of many issues. Hunger exists for many reasons. American Winter explores many of these in an emotionally-engaging film. In 90 minutes you will be moved.

There is hope. There is always hope. As Portland City Councilman Nick Fish concluded, we can turn this American Winter into an American Spring. We can do better.

What You Can Do:

  • Show American Winter to your congregation and outreach ministries.
  • Learn about 211. Then tell 10 people.
  • Meet with your legislators over coffee or at town halls—state representatives are your neighbors!

OFRAH_American_Winter_Recap

Scenes from OFRAH/OCCP Portland Showing of American Winter

Scenes from OFRAH/OCCP Portland Showing of American Winter

OFRAH3 OFRAH2 OFRAH1 OFRAH5

An Oregon Without Hunger June 14, 2013

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An Oregon Without Hunger
OFRAH Portland Metro Chapter: Recap of June 2013 Meeting

Hunger is a complex problem without one solution. The problem of hunger comprises many issues.

The fastest, most direct way to reduce immediate hunger is through emergency food boxes and food pantries, food banks and summer lunch programs. That solves the issue of the rumbling stomach and the weakened body and mind.

Caroline Kelly of Interfaith Food and Farm Partnerships noted that food from food pantries often lacks nutrition and freshness and is not readily available. She stressed that the real reason people are hungry is not because of scarcity – we have enough food – but because of inadequate distribution of food and because U.S. agriculture focuses on creating lots of inexpensive, low-calorie food.

Ms. Kelly advocates for, first, a just system: an equitable approach to a food system that ensures access to fresh, nutritious, affordable, culturally-appropriate food that is fairly distributed, that is inclusive, community-led and participatory, with consideration for the well-being of the land, workers and all creation.

While we work towards food justice, Ms. Kelly also advocates for a system of food sovereignty: a structure where we define our own food system, where we ensure that farms receive a fair price, where we have right to healthy and culturally appropriate food that is sustainably produced.

While we work towards food sovereignty, today even the very basic means of addressing hunger (emergency food boxes) is at risk with proposed cuts to funding for food banks (TEFAP). Ensuring that we can buy the food our families need with food stamps (SNAP) is endangered. Government policies that help our working mothers pay for day care or transition to work – steps towards independence – are not prioritized.

Janet Byrd and Alison McIntosh of Neighborhood Partnerships proposed that nearly every solution to ending hunger in Oregon requires that we trust the government and partner with it. We must realize that the person who represents us is our neighbor, just as the family suffering from hunger lives on our street.

We must emphasize that, while the programs we advocate for address immediate needs such as hunger and poverty, these polices are laying the foundation for a brighter future for Oregon where families are stable, children are educated, and we all are healthy and able to work.

When we recognize that we all benefit from an equal partnership with government, then we can move from food boxes to food justice.

What You Can Do:

• Buy local
• Share your gardening skills and cooking expertise with those who could benefit from your knowledge
• Write a letter to the editor. First appeal to why your concern matters, e.g., justice, democracy, hope, etc., and describe your positive vision of Oregon’s future. Then spend time on the problem and what needs to be done.

Learn more about the Oregon Faith Roundtable Against Hunger and partner with us to end Oregon hunger.

What Good Is Government?: Developing an Effective Interfaith Message in Support of Food Justice, Food Sovereignty and Safety-Net Services June 5, 2013

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7:00 p.m. – 8:30/9:00 p.m. at the Multnomah Friends Meetinghouse, 4312 S.E. Stark Street, Portland, 97215

http://www.archdpdx.org/jprespect/JP_Respect/2013_OFRAH_June_Workshop.pdf 

Church groups see brief window for anti-hunger effort January 16, 2013

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poorAs Congress and the Oregon Legislature prepare to trim government budgets, anti-hunger advocates have begun a 60-day lobbying push. Faith groups stand among those saying cuts should not hurt people who are already poor and scrambling for food.

This message was the focus at a Jan. 12 “Hungry for Change” seminar jointly organized by Catholic Charities, Bread for the World, the Presbyterian Church and the Oregon Center for Christian Voices. Those are some of the member organizations of a coalition called the Oregon Faith Roundtable Against Hunger.

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Setting a Foundation for Advocacy in Communities January 16, 2013

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CircleOn a recent frosty, fog-filled day in Portland, some 65 Oregonians spent the morning learning about hunger in their state, with a focus on moving from awareness to action.

Through the local anti-hunger coalition Oregon Faith Roundtable Against Hunger(OFRAH), of which Bread for the World is a member, Bread staff and the regional Bread Team partnered with Catholic Charities and other Portland-area advocacy and service groups to put on the event “Hungry for Change.” The OFRAH program examined the state of hunger in Oregon and highlighted legislative opportunities at both the state and federal level. Advocate voices are critically needed, especially in the coming year as fiscal belt-tightening PDF Icon will likely target programs for poor and hungry people.

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Covenant of Hope: A Faithful Response to Family Homelessness February 9, 2012

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Lenten Materials on Hunger for your Congregation February 3, 2012

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OFRAH Statewide Conveners John Elizalde and Norene Goplen have prepared some materials on hunger for congregations to use during the Lenten Season.  The materials include a Power Point presentation and several associated documents. The materials are  designed to be used as part of  four consecutive weeks of education on hunger. They can also be used individually to meet the needs for one or two sessions.

All of the documents are linked below.
For more information, contact John or Norene at 503-775-6830.

2012 lenten slides
OREGON TRAIL FACTS-English
OREGON TRAIL FACTS – SPANISH TEXT
Healthy Elders flyer-1

Farm Bill: Why Does OFRAH Care? January 11, 2012

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Below you will find a link to the Power Point presentation that was shown at the January OFRAH Portland Metro meeting. 

Why the Farm Bill Matters!

OFRAH is now on facebook! November 9, 2010

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