Hunger Ministry


Who Are The Hungry and Who Is ELCA World Hunger?

More than 820 million people - that's about 11 percent of people in our world today - are hungry or at risk of hunger.  In Washington State, 1 in 5 area residents are not sure where their next meal is coming from. As members of the ELCA, we are committed to pursuing a world of justice, where all are fed.

And that was before a global pandemic struck.  Today we know that resources are stretched, support is limited, and more people are hungry than a year ago.  National and international experts warn that parts of our world are in danger of experiencing extreme hunger and starvation in the coming months. 

As members of the ELCA, we are called to respond. We are a church that rolls up our sleeves and gets to work.

Working with and through our congregations, in the United States, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands Lutheran churches overseas and other partners, ELCA World Hunger is uniquely positioned to reach communities in need. From health clinics to microloans, water wells to animal husbandry, community meals to advocacy, your gifts to ELCA World Hunger make it possible for the ELCA to respond, supporting sustainable solutions that get at the root causes of hunger and poverty. 

Whatever the long-term consequences of the pandemic will be, they will not be good news for people at risk of hunger.  The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations released its annual State of Food Security and Nutrition report in July 2020 and they are estimating that 83-121 million people will be added to the total number of people who are chronically hungry by the end of this year. That is an astounding number.  For reference, there are about 690 million people now who are hungry and undernourished. This means

Hunger Facts

  • Up to 830 million people around the world - that's more than 1 in 10 - can't access the food they need to be healthy.
  • According to the most recent estimates, 736 million people live in extreme poverty on less than $1.90 per day. That's 10% of the world's population.
  • In 2018 (the most recent year available), more than 37 million people the United States were unsure where their next meal might come from.
  • 41.85 million Americans were living in poverty in 2018 For a family of four, this means their annual household income was below $25,701, with Native Americans (25.4%) and African Americans (20.8%) having the highest poverty rates.

Our commitment to fighting hunger goes beyond providing funds to help those in need. We are a publicly engaged church, working for lasting, systemic change. Our commitment to teaching, organizing and mobilizing plays a critical role in supporting and amplifying our hunger work at the local level.

International Relief and Development

ELCA World Hunger works in more than 50 countries around the world. The strength of our international work is in the relationship between the ELCA and its global companion churches and partners. These churches and organizations understand their local context best, and this means they can responsibly identify their communities’ greatest needs and the most appropriate responses. We walk together with our global partners to develop strategies to reduce the impact of hunger and poverty. Together, we achieve things on a scale and scope that we never could do otherwise.

In partnership with global companion churches — Lutheran church bodies around the world — and other Lutheran partners, such as The Lutheran World Federation, and ecumenical partners like Church World Service, these grants support sustainable development work in areas related to healthcare, income generation, food security, clean water and education — addressing hunger right at the root causes.

Domestic Relief and Development

In the United States, the Caribbean and U.S. Virgin Islands, ELCA World Hunger works with individuals and congregations to raise awareness and address hunger and poverty in these key areas: 

Community Development: Partnering with ELCA congregations, social ministry organizations and grassroots community-based nonprofits that address poverty, hunger and related social justice issues. ELCA World Hunger also provides Domestic Hunger Grants to organizations to help create sustainable programs that work to combat the issues of hunger and poverty.

Education: Providing children, youth and adults with a variety of educational opportunities on the issues surrounding hunger and poverty by creating user friendly materials for congregations and organizations. Hunger education helps congregation members better understand the root causes and long term impact of hunger. You can access this material here.

Advocacy: By speaking with and on behalf of those who are hungry through advocacy, ELCA World Hunger works to change the systems that perpetuate poverty.

One of the reasons the administration and fundraising costs are so small is because ELCA WORLD HUNGER relies on volunteers, such as the members of the SWWA Synod Hunger Committee to provide education and advocacy at the local level. This means that more of every dollar donated goes directly to help those in need!

Would you like to be involved? There are several ways you can help!

1 – Ensure that your congregation supports the work of ELCA World Hunger: This can happen in many ways. Some congregations support this work through a special offering. Others chose to make ELCA World Hunger one of their benevolences.

2 – Become a Congregational Advocate: Congregational Advocates are a valuable link between the SWWA Hunger Committee and your congregation. As an advocate, your job would be to keep your congregation informed of the work of both the SWWA Synod Hunger Committee, and ELCA World Hunger. Our goal is to have at least one advocate per congregation. For more information, or to volunteer, email the Synod Office at Hunger Advocate job description (pdf).

3 – Become a member of the Hunger Committee: work with other committed volunteers to create education opportunities for members congregations throughout the SWWA Synod. Members of the committee also review any Domestic Hunger Grants that fall within the boundaries of SWWA Synod, including site visits. We also partner with other organizations from time to time to create a larger impact, whether it be through advocacy or education. For more information, or to volunteer, email the Synod Office at

Is your congregation interested in hosting an educational event and need a speaker? Please contact the SWWA Synod Office, and they can connect you to a member of the SWWA Hunger Committee from your area that can help you!

Domestic Hunger Grants

In 2021, the following organizations and congregations in the SWWA Synod received Domestic

Hunger Grants of $10,000 over 3 years:

Peace Lutheran Church Community Meals and Services Program, Tacoma

Plateau Outreach Ministry, Enumclaw

These grants help alleviate hunger and poverty in communities around Southwestern Washington.

Is your congregation engaged in work that combats hunger issues? You may be eligible for an ELCA Domestic Hunger Grant for 2022- the application process is open now. You must register for the grant program, before you can submit an application.

Related Ministries

  • ELCA World Hunger
  • Lutheran World Relief: You might think of them as that group your church makes quilts for, but Lutheran World Relief is a non-profit organization that works with local partners to provide lasting solutions to poverty, injustice and human suffering.
  • Bread for the World: Bread for the World is a collective Christian voice urging our nation’s leaders to end hunger at home and abroad.
  • Lutheran Disaster Response: From helping victims of Hurricane Katrina to providing assistance after the earthquake in Haiti, Lutheran Disaster Response is there in domestic and international disasters, helping families put their lives back together.Synod