Friday, September 12, 2003
Steamboat Springs It's a hard statistic for Tim Selby to ignore: Worldwide, 20,000 children die every day from lack of food, he said. That number includes children who starve to death and children who do not receive the nutrition their immune systems need to fight diseases.
"People think that world hunger is the result of famine and drought, but that's a small percentage," Selby said. "It's a political issue."
In America, 33 million people are going hungry, he said. "But we all know, there is plenty of food in this country. It's just not our priority to make sure that everyone is well fed."
It's a frustrating situation for Selby and a cause to which he dedicates much of his energy.
Selby is the associate pastor at the United Methodist Church of Steamboat Springs and has incorporated world hunger into his ministry.
This year he attended a Bread for the World hunger conference in Washington, D.C. He leads a hunger-awareness group called Hunger No More at the church. Members of the group try to educate themselves about hunger issues and are always searching for ways to get involved.
This month, Selby is organizing Steamboat's first CROP Walk -- a four-mile walk and fund-raiser to feed the hungry.
CROP Walk is a decades-old, nationwide event. The concept is simple. Participants walk four miles, sponsored by pledges, and the money raised is given to organizations that battle world hunger.
"Food is such a basic need and something that everyone deserves," Selby said. "But there is enough food for everyone in this world. We just need to make it a priority."
World hunger may seem to be an unsolvable problem, he said, but there are fewer hungry people in the world today, even though the population has grown, because people are focused on the issue.
Steamboat's CROP Walk will begin at the 10 a.m. Oct. 18 in the Meadows parking lot and follow the bike path to Stock Bridge Transit Center.
There also will be a mini-walk for the families with children and those unable to walk the entire four miles.
Twenty-five percent of the proceeds will go to LIFT-UP of Routt County, and 75 percent will be given to international organizations.
"If we are not going to make sure that people are fed, where else can we start?" Selby said. "This has to be priority one."
Selby is on the LIFT-UP board of directors and knows, through his work there, that hunger is also a local issue.
"This past year, people used the food bank more than ever," he said. "With the downturn in the economy, it has been a task to keep food on the shelves. The community has been great, but it is a continuing problem."
For 2003, the nationwide CROP Walk campaign is focused on the plight of refugees. Selby invited a West African community that lives and works in Steamboat, most arriving as refugees from Mauritania, to join the walk and share their experiences.
"This is a fund-raiser, but I also like to think of it as a pilgrimage," Selby said. "There are people who walk in search of food. There are refugees walking in search of a homeland. There are people who walk for clean water. We walk with them.
"This is a sign of solidarity. We want to walk with people who walk difficult roads. That is as important as the money."