Dear Members of Bread for the World:
My name is Eugene Cho and as of this week, I have the privilege and honor to serve alongside you as the new president of Bread for the World.
Before I go any further, I’d like to first extend my deep gratitude and congratulations to Rev. David Beckmann for his humble, extraordinary leadership. For 29 years, David served faithfully and passionately to advocate for so many who experienced hunger in our nation and around the world. While David is retiring from his role at Bread, he’s not retiring from his lifelong commitment to fighting poverty and so, we’re excited to see how God will use David in the years to come.
In the coming months, I’ll be sharing more about my vision for Bread for the World as we enter a new chapter. But for now, it’s critical to be honest about the state of our country and world. Since my official election by Bread’s board of directors in March, the world has dramatically changed in ways that none of us could have imagined.
The last few months have been some of the most turbulent and challenging times in modern history. Over 125,000 people in our country have died due to COVID-19. The numbers globally are staggering with over 510,000 people dying from the pandemic. We’ve been horrified by numerous recorded stories of racial injustice, police brutality, and subsequent righteous anger, and protests that have rocked our nation and the larger world. We’ve also seen unemployment skyrocket to unprecedented numbers.
All of these factors have directly affected the issue of hunger. Of course, hunger was a reality even before our current pandemic—but has since been dramatically exacerbated. This is not an aberration or something to be taken lightly. This pandemic is affecting members of our families, our neighbors, our congregations, the elderly, communities of color, and rural communities.
Because of the coronavirus, the number of food insecure people in the U.S. might increase to 54.3 million and the number of food insecure children could rise to 18 million—a 62 percent increase. In fact, in a recent national survey, 40 percent of mothers with children under age 12 said that they were unable to adequately feed their families.
Additionally, we can’t forget our global neighbors. The World Food Program estimates that if the global community doesn’t act, the number of people who will experience extreme hunger will double by the end of this year—from the current 135 million to 265 million people.
This is all very sobering, but this is precisely why Bread for the World exists…and why we must rise to this unprecedented occasion.
The Holy Scripture tells us that in this world, we’re going to have hardship…but to take heart. We can be comforted that God is with us. But we can’t stop with just our own comfort. We learn that God deeply cares for the vulnerable. God isn’t neutral on these matters. God cares for people living in hunger and poverty… and as such, we must care for them, too.
We’ve seen again and again that when members of Bread leverage our voices and resources, we can use our faith to make a significant impact in our mission to end hunger—both in our nation and around the world. We need you more than ever before.
Together as we pursue God’s Kingdom,
Rev. Eugene Cho