Food for Thought
“For you always have the poor with you, and whenever you want to you can always do them good.”
Those prophetic words attest to Jesus’ greatness, because the poor and starving continue to be with us and probably always will be commonplace in this system of things. These conditions persist in spite of our scientific and technical know-how, not to mention our ability to feed the world’s population many times over. Yet because of our inability to overcome greed, war and political strife, more than 34,000 people die each year of starvation.They are part of a group of more than 14 million people who die of hunger-related causes each year. And half of those dying are children.
Even here in America, the land of plenty, terms such as “food insecure” have entered the lexicon. More than 10 percent of American households are food insecure — meaning they cut the size of meals, or skip them altogether. This, in a country where the government pays farmers to let their fields lie fallow.
What about those well-funded, sympathy-evoking domestic and international hunger relief funds? A scathing report a few years back in the Chicago Tribune found that these organizations pull in hundreds of millions of dollars from well-intentioned but ignorant donors while the starving children they purport to care for get nothing, or next to nothing. I could go on, but you get the message.
Where does higher education fit in? What is the academy’s role in alleviating some of this misery? Joan Morgan accepted the challenging task of looking at what our colleges are doing to prepare a new generation of scholars to tackle this perpetual problem. Joan, a third-generation Tuskegee alumna, found a highly motivated, talented and enthusiastic set of scientists and scholars who just might possess the tightest academic network in the world.
They span the nation. There’s the poultry scientist at University of Tennessee-Knoxville and the world-renowned goat experts at Langston University. There are the plant researchers at University of California-Davis and the scholars at Alabama A&M and Tuskegee who, like George Washington Carver, are prying into the secrets of the peanut. All these experts are quietly going about some of the most important work to be done. Black Issues is pleased to introduce them to you. These researchers and the others like them indeed have a hunger— a hunger for information, the kind that can curtail suffering. Eric St. John’s and Jackie Conciatore’s stories on HBCUs and students of color in agriculture, respectively, shed much-needed light on the history of, and the future prospects for, people of color in this most essential of disciplines.
And if you need a reminder of how essential this issue is, see how long you are able or willing to go without a meal. You will come away with appreciation, not only for the unequaled pain of those who are starving, but also for your colleagues who are at the forefront of
Frank L. Matthews
P.S. For the ultimate solution to hunger, see Revelations 7:16 and 21: 3, 4.
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