October is “Hunger and Homelessness Awareness” month, and from November 15 to 22, it will be “Hunger and Homelessness Awareness” week. I thought we should look at hunger first and next week take on homelessness for reflection and action. Such reflection might become a way in which we can measure our personal belief in Jesus Christ, our commitment to loving kindness.
I think there are two starting points for engaging our intentions to feed the hungry. First, knowledge of the reality and second, knowledge of where and how to serve.
If you think you do not live in an area where there is hunger, check it out on Google or any research engine that can provide this information. It is sadly interesting to note that even in what appears to be somewhat affluent suburbs, there are families with food insecurity, the new phrase describing hungry families.
KNOWLEDGE OF THE REALITY: The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as Food Stamps, suggests that a combination of charity groups and government assistance is needed. So that means you and I are as necessary as our congresspersons in alleviating this crisis. We are also people of faith and our faith requires we “do unto others as we would have them do unto us.” SNAP points out that 54 million Americans may face the grueling reality of hunger in the near future, 18 million of which will be children. They also say that every community is effected; hunger is closer than you think. I was shocked to learn, through a casual exploration of communities near me, that this is true.
SNAP is the largest anti-hunger program in the U.S. and it feeds one in four children daily. The Food Research and Action Center reports that 1 in 4 households have experienced food insecurity this year. This means they are not sure where their next meal will come from and if it will be enough. The Brookings Institute’s report of June 27, 2020 showed that 27.5% of households with children were food insecure. The statistics are rising alarmingly. Check out the research that abounds on this topic.
KNOWLEDGE OF WHERE AND HOW TO SERVE: You want to help, but what are some practical ways you can do this?
Places to check out: Your local Foodbank. They will tell you how to help and stay within safety guidelines. Stop by at any church office and ask where you can help. They usually have programs for families and lists of things volunteers can do. Does your town provide Meals on Wheels? Observe where a family or elderly persons in your neighborhood might need food. Call it a sharing. Just tell them you have extra and want to share.
Hannah Arendt, the great philosopher of our time who endured the massacre of millions of her fellow Jews wrote, “The root of tyranny is the act of making other human beings irrelevant.” When we ignore the hungry, we are making them irrelevant. They do not count for us. They are not powerful or persuasive. They are too hungry to be noticed, to be taken seriously. And we are too busy to look for them, too afraid to help. Who is hungrier?
I’m reflecting on the example a friend recently told me. She delivered a box of food on the doorstep of an elderly woman. She rang the doorbell and began to leave. When she heard the door open she turned to see the woman inside read the paper indicating the source of the donation. She then picked up a loaf of bread and kissed it. That is Eucharist. That is what we are about.
Lord, help me to shed my personal fears and reach out to others. Help me to swallow my selfishness and share kindness and charity with the hungry.
I hope all of us will help in some way. If you are homebound, you can certainly pray for the hungry and you might be able to donate. Let’s do this together, those of you I know and those who are my Anonymous Angels.