Urging our nation's leaders to end hunger
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Quotations and Discussion Starters

These materials can be used to stimulate class discussions, or can be used in congregational bulletins and newsletters throughout the year.

There are people in the world so hungry, that God cannot appear to them except in the form of bread.

– Charles Dickens, Oliver Twist

Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.

– Universal Declaration of Human Rights: Article 25 (1948)

To a man with an empty stomach food is God.

– Gandhi

I can’t talk religion to a man with bodily hunger in his eyes.

– George Bernard Shaw, Major Barbara

"Tzedek, tzedek.... Justice, justice shall you pursue, that you may thrive and dwell in the land that the Eternal your God is giving you."

– Deuteronomy 16:20

This is the first generation in all of recorded history that can do something about the scourge of poverty. We have the means to do it. We can banish hunger from the face of the earth.

– Hubert H. Humphrey, 1965

There is no such thing as an acceptable level of unemployment, because hunger is not acceptable, poverty is not acceptable, poor health is not acceptable, and a ruined life is not acceptable.

– Hubert H. Humphrey

Feeding the hungry is a greater work than raising the dead.

– St. John Chrysostom

“Lord, to those who hunger, give bread. And to those who have bread, give the hunger for justice.”

– Latin American prayer

Charity is commendable; everyone should be charitable. But justice aims to create a social order in which, if individuals choose not to be charitable, people still don’t go hungry, unschooled or sick without care. Charity depends on the vicissitudes of whim and personal wealth; justice depends on commitment instead of circumstance. Faith-based charity provides crumbs from the table; faith-based justice offers a place at the table.

– Bill Moyers

poverty is like punishment for a crime you didn't commit.

– Eli Khamarov, “Lives of the Cognoscenti”

Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.

– Dwight D. Eisenhower, American general and 34th president of the United States

The inevitable consequence of poverty is dependence.

– Samuel Johnson

Hunger is isolating; it may not and cannot be experienced vicariously. He who never felt hunger can never know its real effects, both tangible and intangible. Hunger defies imagination; it even defies memory. Hunger is felt only in the present.

– Elie Wiesel

poverty is the parent of revolution and crime.

– Aristotle

To be a poor man is hard, but to be a poor race in a land of dollars is the very bottom of hardships.

– W.E.B. Dubois

A person who has food has many problems. A person who has no food has only one problem.

– Chinese saying

When I gave food to the poor, they called me a saint. When I asked why the poor were hungry, they called me a communist.

– Dom Helder Camara

The poverty of our century is unlike that of any other. It is not, as poverty was before, the result of natural scarcity, but of a set of priorities imposed upon the rest of the world by the rich. Consequently, the modern poor are not pitied...but written off as trash. The twentieth-century consumer economy has produced the first culture for which a beggar is a reminder of nothing.

– John Berger

In a country well governed, poverty is something to be ashamed of. In a country badly governed, wealth is something to be ashamed of.

– Confucius

Clothes make the poor invisible. America has the best-dressed poverty the world has ever known.

– Michael Harrington

When you are really poor, everything you see is something you can’t have.

– patrick Duncan

Anyone who has struggled with poverty knows how extremely expensive it is to be poor.

– James Baldwin

If we are to have peace on earth, our loyalties must become ecumenical rather than sectional. Our loyalties must transcend our race, our tribe, our class, and our nation; and this means we must develop a world perspective. No individual can live alone, no nation can live alone and as long as we try, the more we are going to have war in the world. Now the judgment of God is upon us and we must either learn to live together as brothers or we are all going to perish together as fools.

– Inscription on the base of the statue of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., in front of the MLK chapel, Moorehouse College, Atlanta, GA

The day that hunger is eradicated from the earth, there will be the greatest spiritual explosion the world has ever known. Humanity cannot imagine the joy that will burst into the world on the day of that great revolution.

– Federico García Lorca

Don't ask yourself what the world needs, ask yourself what makes you come alive, and do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.

– Dr. Howard Thurman

The Seven Social Evils:
  • Wealth Without Work
  • Pleasure Without Conscience
  • Knowledge Without Character
  • Commerce Without Morality
  • Science Without Humanity
  • Worship Without Sacrifice
  • politics Without principles

– Gandhi

If by the end of my term of office, every Brazilian is able to have three meals a day, I will have accomplished my mission in life.

– president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, Brazil, 10/28/2002

Quotations from Catholic social teaching on the theme of poverty.

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