Buddhist Action to Feed the Hungry

You Can Help

By Venerable Thubten Chonyi

smiling nun in library

While the Covid-19 virus has been a persistent top story in world news, the enduring concern of hunger and food insecurity remains an ongoing global plague. Covid has just made things worse.

This fall, Sravasti Abbey invites our kind and generous friends to join us in supporting Buddhist Global Relief in their mission to combat chronic hunger and malnutrition in over 20 specific locations around the world.

Join an online event to learn more October 2 (West Coast version with speakers including Ven. Thubten Chodron) or October 30 (East Coast Version). Or simply learn more and make an offering. Go here to join in the Abbey’s the campaign.

Kindness and generosity

In our daily meditation practice, Abbey friends may spend time reflecting on the kindness we receive and think about the first bodhisattva practice of generosity. But sometimes, overwhelmed by suffering in the world, we don’t know how to help.

Your generosity goes a long way when you help through Buddhist Global Relief (BGR).

BGR supports children in need, supports sustainable agriculture, and empowers vulnerable women all over the world.

It was founded by well-known monk-scholar Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi, whose translations and editing of Pali sutras has brought the Buddha’s teachings into English for millions of spiritual seekers. His 2007 essay, “A Challenge to Buddhists,” published in Lion’s Roar, sparked a movement among his students to take action against manifest suffering in the world. Together, they founded BGR soon after.

Buddhist Global Relief photo

Mission to feed the hungry

BGR founders focused their mission to cover four main goals:

  • providing food assistance to people afflicted by hunger and malnutrition
  • helping develop sustainable, culturally appropriate food production and management
  • promoting the education of girls and women
  • training and empowering women to start right livelihood projects

BGR raises funds to support well-screened partner agencies, institutions, and relief organizations that are already operating on the ground in the many communities they serve.

The range of worthwhile BGR projects is inspiring, and there are far too many to write about here. You can browse thumbnail reports on many projects in the Projects section of the BGR website. They all address hunger and food insecurity in the short and long term through providing food resources and promoting education and sustainable food production.

Buddhist Global Relief photo

What is hunger?

The Buddha said “hunger is the worst kind of illness.” Most of us reading this post have little personal experience of this condition. That is our good fortune. But other people just like us—men, women, and children—know this suffering very well.

The United Nations’ Hunger Report uses the term “hunger” to define periods when populations are experiencing severe food insecurity. That means they go for entire days without eating due to lack of money, lack of access to food, or other resources.

The world produces more than enough food to feed the global population, yet nearly a billion people go hungry every day.

In “The Hunger Virus Multiplies,” international relief organization Oxfam reports that deaths from hunger in 2021 are outpacing the virus.

“Ongoing conflict, combined with the economic disruptions of the pandemic and an escalating climate crisis, has deepened poverty and catastrophic food insecurity in the world’s hunger hotspots and established strongholds in new epicenters of hunger,” they write.

“Today,” the report continues, “eleven people are likely dying every minute from acute hunger linked to three lethal Cs: conflict, Covid-19, and the climate crisis. This rate outpaces the current pandemic mortality rate, which is at seven people per minute.”

Venerable Bhikkhu Bodhi, founder of Buddhist Global Relief (Buddhist Global Relief Photo)

Following the Buddha’s direction

In “A Challenge to Buddhists,” Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi challenges Western Buddhists to face directly how the Buddha’s teaching on the first truth, true duḥkha, often translated as suffering, plays out in the world. “Seeing the immensity of the world’s anguish,” he wrote, “has raised in my mind questions about the future prospects for Buddhism in the West.”

“I’ve been struck,” he continued, “by how seldom the theme of global suffering—the palpable suffering of real human beings—is thematically explored in the Buddhist journals and teachings with which I am acquainted . . . Too often, I feel, our focus on (our middle class experience) of dukkha has made us oblivious to the vast, catastrophic suffering that daily overwhelms three-fourths of the world’s population.”

He concludes, “The special challenge facing Buddhism in our age is to stand up as an advocate for justice in the world, a voice of conscience for those victims of social, economic, and political injustice who cannot stand up and speak for themselves. This, in my view, is a deeply moral challenge marking a watershed in the modern expression of Buddhism.”

Sravasti Abbey shares his sentiment, and invites you to help us help BGR.

Buddhist Global Relief photo

Will you help?

If the issue of world hunger touches you, there are many ways to help.

The 2021 Buddhist Action to Feed the Hungry extends through October. Please open your heart wide and join us.

Watch Ven. Chonyi’s Bodhisattva’s Breakfast Corner talk on the Buddhist Action to Feed the Hungry.