Ending the Hunger Crisis Begins in the Heart

Written by Eryn Austin-Bergen

We’ve read The Stats:
  • Up to 828 million people go to bed hungry every night. 
  • Nearly 43.3 million people across 51 countries are at serious risk of famine. 
  • 60 per cent of the world’s hungry people live in zones affected by conflict, which is the main driver in 8 out of 10 of the worst hunger crises. 
  • 45 per cent of child deaths worldwide are from hunger and hunger-related causes.
We’ve seen the images of fallen cattle, emaciated children, wailing mothers, listless fathers, angry leaders. We’ve scrolled, clicked, and swiped. Now what?

We genuinely feel for suffering families and we want to help, but it’s not always clear what we can do for people so far away or how we can tackle such big problems. And, as we watch our grocery bills climb at an unsustainable rate, we also worry about our own children. What will their futures look like? Perhaps we should turn off the newsreel, put down our devices, and try something new? Because the reality is, in spite of soaring hunger statistics, the world does not have a food problem. It has a heart problem.

It’s well documented that the earth can produce enough food to feed every single person on the planet. In fact, humans already cultivate and harvest sufficient food for everyone to have their fill. So why are so many people food insecure?

Inequality. Injustice. Conflict. Greed. Our human failings lead to breakdowns in the cultivation, production, and distribution of life-giving food. We have a heart problem. So, let’s start there! Here are seven ways to check your heart that will help create a world where everyone gets enough—including your own children!

1. Get that “Attitude of Gratitude” going!

One of the best ways to fight discontent in your heart is to practice gratitude. Instead of wishing your kitchen was bigger so you’re not constantly bumping into your family members and catching your elbows on open drawers (hypothetically speaking, of course), try pausing to say, “I’m so grateful I have a place to cook for my family.”

Or, when you lie down to go to sleep, list out five things you’re grateful for, like a roof over your head, a warm place to sleep, a community that checks in on you, running water when you turn on the tap, music that makes your heart sing. As you shift your focus to seeing the richness of what you already have, your heart will let go of the things you may not actually need.

2. Decide how much is “enough”

The human heart has an amazing capacity! And the big corporations trying to get you to buy more know that. They will always tell you that you need something else to be happy…to feel loved…to be significant. Unless you make a conscious decision about how much is “enough” to be content, your heart will never be satisfied with what you buy—it will believe you need more. Your hard-earned resources will be wasted on things and experiences that can’t fill you up.

3. Connect with nature

Did you know your heart longs for the earth? It’s true—studies show that time spent breathing in trees can calm anxiety, reduce depression, improve our immunity, and make us more generous! Another way to connect your heart with nature is to get in touch with the good bacteria living in your gut. Making healthy eating choices that help your good bacteria thrive actually reduces anxiety and depression, and boosts happy feelings. It’s no wonder many cultures imagine the seat of our emotions as being in our gut instead of our heart.

So, go for a walk in the trees, get your hands full of healthy soil to grow some veggies, drink that zesty Kombucha, and care for your heart. You’ll find a growing capacity within yourself to face the difficult realities of our world with more peace, optimism, and strength.

4. Swap out “What can I buy?” with “Who can I bless?”

As soon as we have an extra toonie or ten-er in our pocket, it’s natural to start thinking about what “extra” we could buy. But instead of setting your heart on treats for yourself or your family, try turning your heart outward and asking, “I already have enough; who can I bless?” You’ll start seeing friends, neighbours, and strangers who could use a cup of coffee or a modest grocery card to help them out this week. And when you do—look out! The human heart thrives on loving others—giving instead of spending will bring intense joy into your life. Try it!

5. Adjust your heart diet

Are you feeding your heart too much heart-breaking news? It’s easy to get “compassion fatigue” from the constant alerts showing us the latest shootings, earthquakes, and hunger stats. Overindulging in entertainment can also make for a bad heart diet. While binge watching your favourite shows or spending hours on that game you just can’t stop tapping brings temporary relief from the pressures of life, they also lead to heart numbness and disconnect you from the people you love. 

Have you tried feeding your heart a healthy serving of hope, instead? When we feed on hope, our hearts gain the clarity and courage to take action to change the world, our neighbourhoods, even our own homes.

6. Make a list of your fears

So often, our hearts become riddled with fears and we don’t even know it! Sitting down to name your fears can be so liberating. When we name them, we can see that some fears are ridiculous and need to be rejected, while some are valid. Real fears are ones we can take action to prevent or mitigate. Other fears are rational but out of our control; we have to choose courage in the face of those fears, and get on with living. When we free our hearts from fear, we can start making generous decisions out of love, rather than poor decisions from a place of fear.

7. Pursue meaning!

The human heart craves meaning! It’s why we build rocket ships and shoot for the stars. Why we jump in submarines and plunge to the depths of the darkest ocean. Why we leap in front of bullets for strangers. So ask yourself, what (or who!) am I living for? How do I want to be remembered? These questions bring so much clarity to how we focus our time and resources. They help us not get bogged down in the weeds of life, but rather stay focused on the big things in life, the meaningful things. And they allow our hearts to live into the heroes we were born to be.

A healthy heart leads to happy, free, confident, and generous living.
This is who we want to be! But whether you believe in God or simply the goodness of your neighbour, it does take a leap of faith to live open-handedly. Our natural impulse is to hoard resources and protect “our own”.

But when we truly care for our hearts, they will turn toward mending our broken world and we will ALL begin to thrive! When we feel secure enough to stand up against inequality, injustice, conflict, and greed, secure enough to make sacrifices for others, that’s when we can start getting food to the hungry.



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Food for the Hungry: Ending the Hunger Crisis Begins in the Heart
Ending the Hunger Crisis Begins in the Heart
Food security doesn't begin with better farming or more international aid. It begins in the heart.
Food for the Hungry
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