The Polls: Where faith and civic participation meet

July 7, 2016
Design by Doug Puller/Bread for the World.

By Catherine Winn

I took a day off last month from my summer internship at Bread for the World to work at the polling place in my precinct for the Washington, D.C., primary election. As a voter assistance clerk, I spoke with voters who had struggled through the humid June heat to vote in an election that held little significance in the eyes of the media.

As the last presidential primary in a city that does not have representation in Congress, elections in D.C. are relatively inconsequential in the United States as a whole. Even so, voters in my precinct worked to ensure that their voices, however ignored by the rest of the country, would be heard. Their commitment to political engagement and their belief in the power of their vote drove hundreds of my neighbors to the polls, despite car troubles, long walks, or tight schedules. It was an inspiring day.

By choosing council members and presidential nominees, these voters were shaping the future of hunger and poverty in their city. As a member of Metropolitan Memorial United Church in Washington, D.C., I have participated in serving meals to people in need. Many of those individuals being helped have jobs and are addressing their mental health issues but still suffer from homelessness and food insecurity.

God explicitly calls us to end injustices around us, and my internship with Bread this summer gives me an opportunity to practice my Christian beliefs in every assignment. Even in my relatively short time at Bread, I have developed a deeper respect and appreciation for voters who are determined to exercise their democratic right to alleviate hunger in their communities.  While the percentage of undernourished people in the world has fallen dramatically in the past 20 years --thanks in large part to programs of our federal government that voters and hunger advocates supported – we still have a long road ahead to end hunger in my lifetime.

What happens in the November elections, at the local and national level, will influence how serious our country is about setting a priority to end hunger for good. In August, Bread will formally launch its Vote to End Hunger campaign.  Our vote can and will make a difference in the lives of hungry people in my D.C. neighborhood and around the world. Bread has commissioned surveys, produced election resources, and met with candidates’ policy advisers to help magnify the importance of hunger and poverty issues in the 2016 elections. And more is still to come.

Voting to end hunger applies to all levels of government, not only presidential campaigns. Mayors, city council members, and board of education members are the types of elected officials who can also work toward ending hunger in our community if voters insist that ending hunger is a core component of their platform. Even though an election may seem unimportant, as it seemed in D.C., every ballot that is cast can have a lasting impact if we collectively exercise our right to vote at the national and local levels. Whether interning at Bread or volunteering in my voting precinct, I see my efforts as my faith in action to end hunger.

Catherine Winn is an intern in the church relations department at Bread for the World.

Voting to end hunger applies to all levels of government, not only presidential campaigns. 

from our Resource Library

For Education

For Faith

  • Unity Declaration on Racism and Poverty

    A diverse body of Christian leaders calls on the churches and Congress to focus on the integral connection.

    Dear Members of Congress,

    As the president and Congress are preparing their plans for this year, almost 100 church leaders—from all the families of U.S. Christianity—are...

  • In Times Like These … A Pan-African Christian Devotional for Public Policy Engagement

    This devotional guide invites deepened relationship with and among Pan-Af­rican people and elected leaders in the mission to end hunger and poverty.

  • Sermon by David Beckmann at Duke University Chapel

    Remarks delivered October 1, 2017 at Duke University Chapel in Chapel Hill in North Carolina.

    Thank you for inviting me to preach here at Duke University Chapel. And I especially want to thank the Bread for the World members who have come this morning.

    Bruce Puckett urged...

For Advocacy

  • U.S. Hunger and Poverty State Fact Sheets

    These fact sheets provide a snapshot of hunger and poverty in the United States and in each state plus Washington, D.C. 

  • Fact Sheet: Hunger by the Numbers

    In 2017, 11.8 percent of households in the U.S.—40 million people—were food-insecure, meaning that they were unsure at some point during the year about how they would provide for their next meal.

  • Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act of 2017

    Unnecessarily long prison sentences, combined with the lack of rehabilitative programs for people in prison, exacerbate hunger, poverty, and existing inequalities.

    Overly harsh mandatory minimum prison sentences have contributed to the rapid increase of our country’s prison population. The...


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