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November 2012
Sisters Address Food Security Issues
Job Training Top Priority
Deciding Who Eats
Quick Links
Sisters Serve as Lifelines to Food Production Across the Globe
Chickens For Congo
Chickens for Congo
Sister Claudine launched the Chickens for Congo project 10 years ago in order to provide sources of protein to the people she serves. Funding is always needed for the continued care and feeding of the flock.
Overseeing the nuts and bolts of food production and preparation is not explicitly written into the mission statement of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur. Why, then, are Sisters engaged as agricultural consultants, poultry farmers and catering directors? Because standing with the world's impoverished people and serving as their advocates entails addressing the overriding issues of hunger, food security and lack of access to a living wage. Sisters do what is necessary to support the essence of our mission, says Sister Leonore Coan, Director of the Congregation's Mission Support Office.
"Primarily, we Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur are educators," she says. "But we cannot educate students who are starving or unable to apply what we teach to their lives. Lots of times, that means we begin with the very basics, encouraging and supporting as we go."
Good Food for a Good Cause
Giving thanks is a daily occurrence at Power Inspires Progress (PIP), a nonprofit job-training program in Cincinnati, Ohio. In the past 26 years, hundreds of participants have found jobs thanks to the skills they acquired at PIP. At the heart of the program is a restaurant called Venice on Vine as well as a catering business, where participants learn the ins and outs of restaurant and business management.
The entire enterprise is the brainchild of Sister of Notre Dame de Namur Judy
Job trainees at PIP monitor the buffet at Venice on Vine Pizzeria. The program's goal is to prepare skilled workers. Maintaining the program is a top priority for the Sisters.
Tensing (whose official current title is Catering Director) and Sister Barbara Wheeler, a Dominican Sister of Hope. In  the early 1980s, the women operated a food pantry in the west end of Cincinnati, where they spent hours in conversation with the area's low-income residents. According to Sister Judy, those who frequented the food pantry asked not for handouts, but for jobs. Shortly thereafter, Power Inspires Progress was born. Sub-standard education, nonexistent skills and lack of transportation are employment barriers experienced by inner city residents like those who flock to the PIP program.
In Congo, Deciding Who Eats 
Sister Marie-Angele prepares ears of corn for the students' porridge.  
  At the Sisters' schools in the Democratic Republic of Congo, students are so impoverished that they often eat only one meal a day. Sisters see students losing concentration, slumping in their seats and complaining of stomach aches. "Sister, we are hungry," the Sisters often hear. "Can you help us?"
Sister Justine at the Mpese Mission agreed to oversee the planting of a field of corn by the school's secondary students. When the corn was harvested and made into a thin porridge, Sister Justine was concerned it would not feed the entire school for very long. She decided to put it to the students. "Who eats?" she asked. "Sister," they replied. "We are all hungry. We all eat."
Sugar, corn and water are the ingredients for the porridge served by Sister Justine in Mpese, Congo. For many students, this is their only meal of the day. Feeding hungry children is an investment in the future.
The porridge was carefully distributed for several days before it ran out. The students wondered if they could keep a school garden growing year round. That was when Sister Justine told them that she had not used all the harvested corn for the porridge. She had held some back for use in growing a second harvest. She had saved  enough for the students to do a second planting.
A Second Harvest
At this time of year, family and friends gather in thanksgiving for blessings received. And in faith, we share those blessings as well as our abundance. Your gift to the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur is an investment in moving forward in faith. Together, we can create a second harvest.
With a grateful heart,
Sister Leonore Coan
Director of Mission Support, Congregational Mission Office