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“When I was hungry”: Food Insecurity, Catholic Social Teaching and our Preferential Option For the Poor

“The joy and hope, the grief and anguish of the people of our time, especially of those who are poor or afflicted in any way, are the joy and hope, the grief and anguish of the followers of Christ as well.”

These first words of Vatican Council II’s Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World were proclaimed more than fifty years ago and remain core to being authentic Christian disciples.  The Council urged the entire Church to make a preferential option for the poor.  “Option” is actually an imperative, a mandate to make a wholehearted choice to attend to those who are most in need. 

  • It is the Gospel imperative of the Beatitudes. 

  • It’s the imperative to serve the least among us.  What we do for them we do for Christ. 

  • It’s the command to love one another, above all those who can’t compensate us or reciprocate. 

  • It is the command and the standard of the one who announced that He came precisely to bring Good News to the poor, proclaim liberty to captives, and let the oppressed go free.


We will look together at the grief and anguish of people who don’t know if, when or how they will find adequate nutrition for themselves and their families.  We will examine causes of chronic food insecurity around the world and especially in our own area.  We will then discuss effective ways to help people meet immediate needs and be able to provide for themselves.  

 Richard is director of the Ignatian Volunteer Corps for the Philadelphia/South Jersey Region, and an adjunct faculty member at Esperanza College teaching “Faith, Reason and Justice” and “Foundations of Christian Spirituality”.  He previously taught at Temple, West Chester and LaSalle, focusing on world geography, Latin American and African development, international economics, and the economics of developing countries. He has M.Div. and M.A.(systematic theology) degrees from the Catholic Theological Union at Chicago and did doctoral studies in regional planning at UCLA