A Review of
I was Hungry: Cultivating Common Ground to End an American Crisis
Review by Leslie Starasta
Jeremy Everett’s book I Was Hungry, although non-fiction, pulls the reader into its pages like a good novel. Everett shares numerous stories of his experiences working to end hunger primarily through the Texas Hunger Initiative. The stories he shares are gripping and important to show the depth of hunger, poverty, and suffering that exists in the United States. The stories also set the stage for the important information Everett shares regarding how disparate groups can join together to help end hunger in America.
The first several chapters set the stage by illuminating the enormous extent of hunger in America and how Everett became involved in the battle against hunger. Throughout the experiences he shares, Everett emphasizes that the people in these circumstances are your friends and neighbors, and could even be your family. As the book continues, Everett provides a blueprint for exactly how to create a common ground where community-based organizations, churches, and government organizations can work together to accomplish what no single organization can do individually. This blueprint has been developed and honed through Everett’s own grass-root experiences and service on the National Commission on Hunger and the Texas Hunger Initiative. He shares the mistakes he has made and what he has learned so that others may benefit from his experiences.
While Everett definitely writes from a Christian perspective, individuals of other faith backgrounds or no faith background can benefit from his experiences. Throughout the book, examples demonstrate the success that can be had when groups work together to a common goal. Everett specifically encourages varying groups to talk together and build relationships in order to find common ground and create a better America instead of demonizing others and having a “win” at all costs attitude. Everett does not disregard the role of politics, but demonstrates the importance of working together and getting to know all of the players at the table.
Everett does not sugarcoat the difficult issues or the hard work that it will take to end hunger. Many of his stories will make you angry, but the same stories and the stories of communities who are making a difference will inspire you to take action in your community.
C. Christopher Smith is the founding editor of The Englewood Review of Books. He is also author of a number of books, including most recently How the Body of Christ Talks: Recovering the Practice of Conversation in the Church (Brazos Press, 2019). Connect with him online at: C-Christopher-Smith.com