When a well-dressed young couple walked into the Nashville food bank where Cindy Morgan was helping out, she didn’t quite know what to make of it.
“They were 25 or 26,” said Morgan. “You would just never think they would walk in and ask for a box of food.”
Since then, Morgan and the rest of the volunteers from her church have seen enough unexpected visitors to alter their views of what hunger looks like in the United States.
About 15 percent of the country are struggling to put food on the table, according to Bread for the World.
That’s right – some 50 million Americans.
Not in Africa. Or in India. But in her own backyard.
“I didn’t even know,” said Morgan. “It opened my eyes on a local level.”
Bringing Hope to the Table
Once she wrapped her head around how massive the hunger problem really is, the 12-time Dove award winning singer/songwriter decided to do something about it.
Morgan got together with fellow Nashville musicians Andrew Greer and Kyle Buchanan, and Hymns for Hunger took root. The three performers have combined their musical talents with a passion for feeding the hungry, creating a popular concert series that raises money and food for pantries around the U.S. and beyond.
“Hunger is creeping into the middle class,” said Greer. “I don’t think it has to be a hopeless or a dire situation. It’s just the season we’re in.”
In order to do their part to bring hope to the table, Greer, Morgan, and Buchanan have been traveling from city to city, partnering with local and international food campaigns. In each town, they schedule a free concert, and then spend several weeks drumming up support for the organization they’re partnering with. The night of the concert, guests bring canned goods in place of an admission fee.
In between their folksy blend of hymns and spirituals, the trio takes a break to feature the food bank they’re partnering with that night. That gives the organization a chance to highlight its mission and its needs before a captive audience that’s eager to pitch in.
“It’s a community approach,” said Greer. “Meeting each other’s needs where they are, and being the body of Christ.”
A Biblical Command
When it comes to the importance of believers reaching out to feed and care for the hungry, Greer and Morgan point straight to the life of Jesus recorded in the Gospels.
In Matthew 25, the command to show tangible compassion for the poor is about as clear as it gets when Jesus says, “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in.”
Jesus goes on to say that the righteous will ask when, exactly, they have ever fed Him.
“Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” (Matthew 25:40, NIV)
Hitting the Road for Hunger
So far this year, Hymns for Hunger concerts have been held in eight states and Nicaragua. With their talents combined, Greer, Morgan, and Buchanan have audiences on their feet, clapping along to music they describe as “Americana folk with tinges of blue grass, country, blues, and soul.”
“It’s kind of vintage,” said Greer. “It’s music that I would say has been for a long time and will probably continue to be for a long time. The foundation is a mutual admiration and love for the hymns, for the meaning of the hymns and how they’ve impacted our lives.”
The familiar hymns have a way of bringing a community together, as the three musicians sing about love and hope.
But Hymns for Hunger goes beyond the music.
Through faith and a simple act of obedience, the trio isn’t just singing about hope–it’s sharing it with a hungry world in a tangible way, one concert at a time.