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Undo Hunger

An expert in the law asked Jesus, “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”  Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ {Matthew 2:36-40}.

I’m not here to debate theology, your beliefs, or to defend mine.  I believe the scripture also says, “Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling;” {Philippians 2:12}.

Undo Hunger from WholesomeMommy.com

So on that note, there are many things Christians don’t see eye to eye on, but in my own humble opinion, it is those matters that we have to work out for ourselves and it is okay to disagree and we must give each other the grace and room to disagree.  But, it is very clear that Jesus said it is of the most importance to “Love God with all your soul and all your mind,” and to “Love your neighbor as yourself.”  I hope we can all agree on these things.  And with those things on my heart and on my mind, I share the following.

This morning I listened to Dove award-winning singer, Michael Boggs’ newly released single , “What Would Jesus Undo?” {You can see below and download it for free right now here}.  I wept. I don’t think it is just the pregnancy hormones either. This song is VERY moving.  It talks about how we use scripture to hurt one another and how we have built walls as a church to keep the sinners out.  I encourage you to listen to the song yourself and to think about what things Jesus would have you undo.

I have had the opportunity to speak with some lovely ladies that work with Feed the Children, an international non-profit about my own journey to provide meal plans – REAL Food Meal Plans on a Food Stamp Budget – for free, to anyone who wants them.  And they asked me to speak about how I believe Jesus would love to see us undo hunger.

This is such a timely post for me. I just received a message on my facebook page from a single mother who said she has just found herself in a situation where she needed SNAP to feed herself and her two children.  She said, “I just received my EBT card in the mail and still feel embarrassed for even needing them.”  Why does she feel embarrassed?  Well, most of us would feel similarly, we all have pride we have to overcome and realizing and then having to ask for help is a humbling experience.  But honestly, its something more, its the way you are looked at in the store, the snide comments made about “those people,” and the facebook posts that we post without thinking about the REAL people in these situations.   I just saw one today.  And actually, it was posted by not one, but two of my friends, who have judged others for needing SNAP benefits.  It was a picture to two refrigerators – one brimming with food labeled as someone “with no job and welfare,” and one empty but for a single item, labeled as “hard working tax payer.”

So, I hope to clear up some of those thoughts you might have, some knowingly, some unknowingly about those who are on SNAP benefits.  You might not think you have judged those in need, but have you ever said a harsh word about our government and the “system” and how it is broken?  Perhaps you’ve thought that many people abuse the program, or that your hard earned dollars are feeding someone else who has no desire to work?  Maybe you’ve heard stories about people who sale their food stamps? Let’s talk about it so we can get over it, move on, and determine how we can be a solution to the problem of hunger – and “undo hunger.”

The following are from the Feeding America Website:

 MYTH: SNAP doesn’t do enough to encourage participants to get a job, and the program needs stronger work requirements.

  •   SNAP already has strict time-limits for unemployed workers. Able-bodied adults without dependents (ABAWDs) may only receive 3 months of SNAP benefits during any 3 year period, unless they are working in a qualifying job training program.
  • The SNAP benefit formula is structured to provide a strong work incentive – for every additional dollar a SNAP participant earns, their benefits decline by about 24 to 36 cents, not a full dollar, so participants have a strong incentive to find work, work longer hours, or seek better-paying employment

MYTH: We need tougher enforcements on illegal immigrants using SNAP.

  •  Undocumented immigrants are ineligible for SNAP. Additionally, there is already a strict waiting period for documented immigrants. Documented adult immigrants (those with a greencard) are subject to a five-year waiting period before they are eligible for SNAP.
  • Noncitizens make up a very small portion of SNAP participants – only 4% of participants are noncitizens (documented immigrants or refugees

MYTH: A lot of people sale their food stamps for cash.

  • The national rate of food stamp trafficking declined from about 3.8 cents per dollar of benefits redeemed in 1993 to about 1.3 cent per dollar during the years 2009 to 2011.  As you may have read in local news, USDA is aggressively fighting trafficking, but while there are individual cases of program abuse, for every one instance of fraud, there are hundreds of stories of heartbreaking need.

MYTH: People are receiving SNAP that don’t really need it or they receive too much.

  • SNAP error rates declined by 57% since FY2000, from 8.91% in FY2000 to a record low of 3.80% in FY2011. The accuracy rate of 96.2% (FY2011) is an all-time program high and is considerably higher than other major benefit programs, for example Medicare fee-for-service (91.5%) or Medicare Advantage Part C (88.6%).
  • Two-thirds of all SNAP payment errors are a result of caseworker error.Nearly one-fifth are underpayments, which occur when eligible participants receive less in benefits than they are eligible to receive.
  • SNAP benefits don’t last most participants the whole month. 90% of SNAP benefits are redeemed by the third week of the month, and 58% of food bank clients currently receiving SNAP benefits turn to food banks for assistance at least 6 months out of the year.
  • The average monthly SNAP benefit per person is $133.85, or less than $1.50 per person, per meal.
  • Only 57% of food insecure individuals are income-eligible for SNAP, and 26% are not income-eligible for any federal food assistance

Did you read those last statistics?  It isn’t just people on SNAP that are hungry.  It isn’t just families on SNAP that are using food banks. 

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Who is Hungry in America?

  • The 37 million Americans served annually by Feeding America include nearly 14 million children and nearly 3 million seniors.
  • Each week, approximately 5.7 million people receive emergency food assistance from an agency served by a Feeding America member. This is a 27percent increase over numbers reported in Hunger in America 2006, which reported that 4.5 million people were served each week.
  • These numbers are based on surveys conducted at emergency feeding centers, such as soup kitchens and food pantries, but do not factor in many individuals also served at non-emergency locations, such as Kids Cafe programs and senior centers.

These figures are ONLY from Feed America programs. There are many church programs that are not affiliated with these bigger food pantry organizations, and then there are other organizations like Feed the Children who provide boxes of food to families in needThese are families in AMERICA that are going hungry!

So, can we put aside our judgement for just one moment and think about how we can instead be part of the solution?  Sure, we could dwell on the fact that our government assistance programs may be less than perfect, but let’s instead focus on what WE can do as individuals. I challenge you to think about it as a family. Think about how you can give to those less fortunate. Those who are HUNGRY in your own neighborhoods.  There are many things you could do to help, but here’s a few ideas to get you thinking:

  • Donate a box of food to your local food pantry – make it a goal to do it quarterly, once a month, or another reoccurring time frame, and not just at holidays.
  • Write a check of donation to your local pantry, or a larger organization like Feed the Children or Feed America – a one time gift or better yet, set a goal to give a certain percentage of your income each month.
  • Cook a double batch of dinner, make some freezable waffles, and/or pack a box of simple to prepare or partially prepared foods and take it to that elderly person down the street or that family in need that you know personally.
  • Donate your time.  See if you can volunteer at your local pantry – especially if you kids are old enough – get them involved too.
  • Growing a garden this year?  See if you can donate your bumper crop at your local food pantry.

Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy,fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.  Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. {Philippians 2:1-4}

This post was written as part of the blog tour for Feed the Children who has partnered with Dove award-winning singer, Michael Boggs, in conjunction with the release of his new and highly anticipated single, “What Would Jesus Undo?”  They believe that only through acts of love – specifically the way we love God and each other – that we can UNdo many of the problems in the worldSo, every Tuesday in March and April, they hope to share a different voice and cause (Hunger, Hatred, Thirst, Disease, Poverty, etc.) that we would love to see UNdone.  This was NOT a compensated post…only a pouring out of my heart.

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Comments

  1. Love this Denise!

  2. Thank you. Our family has recently found ourselves relying on SNAP after years of struggling to get by on rice and beans. It is humbling and not something we plan to continue any longer than needed. For us, the benefits are more than we have ever had to spend on food and we try to use any extra at the end of the month to buy food for others who need it. We also try to entertain company several times a month, inviting those who probably won’t have a healthy meal otherwise. This is a season of life for us and we are incredibly grateful for the program.

  3. Jeri Luby says:

    With love and respect, I’d like to share my experience. As a foster mom, I take care of the kids whose parents receive all of the benefits you mention. The children are hungry because their mothers choose to use drugs instead of feeding their precious children. These children are always surprised when we sit down to dinner as a family; they are used to scrounging for themselves (even the 3 year old; can you imagine!) I acknowledge that there are people who are in trouble because circumstances beyond their control, but my entire experience is of cleaning up after the people who make destructive choices, regardless of how it hurts their children. These people are not stupid nor are they animals, not responsible for their choices. They choose to indulge themselves and DEMAND that other people support them. As a Christian, I reach out to love the children and only through God can I show the parents love. But God also allows me to be clear-eyed about who is responsible for this hunger.

  4. What an article. Totally hit home. Thanks!

  5. Christina says:

    I appreciate your bringing to a light a worthy topic and cause. It breaks my heart to know that children go with out and are hungry. I too have found my self on the receiving end of SNAP for a period of time. I put my pride aside to meet my children’s needs. However, since your information was not sourced I question the validity of it. There is way too much abuse of government subsidies/benefits. But I commend you for getting the conversation started. I am going to look in to my local food bank.

  6. anonymous says:

    Thank you so much for this post. As someone who is currently trying to make things work for a family of 8 in California, part of that includes being on food stamps. And I regularly see posts from my friends, many of them regular churchgoers about how people on welfare are less than. It’s hurtful when we are doing all we can to get by. Oftentimes my kids have to wear worn out shoes (like with holes, not just dingy) to school because we can’t afford to replace them. We are Christian, we attend church every Sunday, say our prayers regularly, offer service to those around us, asnd do without necessities sometimes because wecan’t afford them yet, and we are the face of the welfaresystem. It’s true sometimes people abuse the system but if those same people were suddenly without work with a family to feel you swallow your pride and ask for the help your children need. What good parent wouldn’t?

  7. Thank you for this post. My hubby is a disabled vet that is working and going to school at the same time. I homeschool our son, which is work without financial pay…though hugs and kisses are nice. We know other vets in our same situation that are barely getting by….hardworking vets like my husband who served overseas and went to war. Using Food stamps is embarrassing but it’s getting us through this transition time, a very long transition time from the military into the civilian world.

    We don’t have cable or drive brand new vehicles. Both of us work very hard. Times are getting much better. My hubby doesn’t pay taxes right now because everything is through the VA (including his job). But believe me….our family paid plenty when he went to Iraq and we’re still paying for that. Plus we homeschool so we pay for our son’s education out of our own pocket. Tax money doesn’t go to homeschoolers and we don’t get free lunch.

    I have seen the extreme where people abuse food stamps but not everyone is like that. We support missions and give to people all the time. We volunteer with our church to help the homeless. Even our friends who are against some people having food stamps feel that our family is right in getting them since my husband served this country. Still, it was embarrassing admitting to them. Well, that’s my two cents ;) . Thanks again for this post. God bless!

    PS: You’d be surprised by how many people that are house poor and struggling in rich communities. Everyone is struggling these days it seems. Anywho, we’re not house poor or rich by any means. We’re not on welfare either. People need to be careful who they are shaming…they may be talking about their next door neighbor and not know it. It could be them one day on food stamps. Even millionaires can become homeless….it happens.

    • Denisesawyer says:

      It absolutely happens. :) I appreciate you taking the time to share your story to allow people to put faces to these statistics. Praying for your family as you transition.
      God Bless,
      Denise
      Wholesome Mommy

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