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To Feed the Needy

October 11, 2015

Volunteers from US Marine Forces Command and II Marine Expeditionary Force at Greater Boston Food Bank (2015), Source, Author Lance Cpl. Calvin Shamoon (PD-federal govt.)

“Where a great proportion of the people are suffered to languish in helpless misery, that country must be ill policed, and wretchedly governed: a decent provision for the poor is the true test of civilization.”

– Samuel Johnson

The polite term for hunger these days is “food insecurity”. But, in urban and rural areas alike, hunger is present at the table. One in seven Americans rely on food banks to help feed their children [1]. Fully 25% of military families – well over 500,000 households – require assistance with food needs [2].

Many of those relying on food banks are employed. They work as receptionists and janitors, as cashiers and nurses’ aides. Some work two jobs, but still cannot make ends meet. Often the choice is between food and rent, utilities, medical care, or transportation [3].

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), commonly referred to as “food stamps”, provides assistance to millions. But that assistance is generally slim, and can be erratic. One government assessment of SNAP characterized “restricting food intake” as among the “coping strategies” the poor utilize to deal with recurrent shortfalls [4]. Benefits can be exhausted in 2-3 weeks; red tape and bureaucratic snafus abound [5][6].

With financial resources limited, a movement is gaining support to increase sustainable food supplies by growing food directly. In Michigan, Wisconsin, Virginia, Texas, and elsewhere across the country an increasing number of food banks like the Hunger Task Force and Forgotten Harvest have taken to running their own farms [7].

Though this promises a renewable supply of fresh, nutritional produce for the needy, it is no small task. Arable land, specialized equipment, reliable volunteer labor, and agricultural expertise are all required. Rather than operating farms, themselves, some food banks are making arrangements with farmers to share their harvest.

America’s system for feeding the needy is an imperfect one.  Our role as Christians should, however, be obvious.  Liberal or conservative, Democratic or Republican, we must take part.

“ ‘…for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink…’” (Matt. 25: 35).

[1] USA Today, “Hunger in America: 1 in 7 Rely on Food Banks” by Natalie DiBlasio, 8/17/14,

[2] NBC News, In Plain Sight, “Hungry Heroes: 25 Percent of Military Families Seek Food Aid” by Miranda Leitsinger, 8/17/14,

[3] Feeding America, Hunger in America, Our Research, 2014 “Hunger in America” Study, Key Findings,

[4] [5] US Dept. of Agriculture, Nutrition Assistance Program Report Series, Family Nutrition Programs, “SNAP Food Insecurity In-Depth Interview Study – Final Report”, March 2013,

[6], “Red Tape Glitches Cut Food Stamp Recipients” by Susan Spencer and staff, 6/7/15, updated 6/8/15,

[7] NBC News, In Plain Sight, “From Field to Fork: Food Banks Start Farming to Feed the Needy” by Miranda Leitsinger, 5/29/14,


  1. Q's Corner permalink


    Your article triggered a thought in me of the multitudes who sit on our churches pews who are starving spiritually! We sit there week after week, year after year, desperate for love and all that we receive is cruel judgment, shunning and censure from those who claim to be our brothers and sisters in the Lord. Taking the very Word of God, and beating up everyone who we judge weaker than ourselves! They compare themselves among themselves, as if THEY are the special ones! Many uncountable souls have been murdered by these so called righteous ones!

    Where does one go to find the true love that heals!?

    • My dear Q, your comment seems to me a genuine cry from the heart. I am truly sorry for your pain, and am sure you speak for many others. I can offer just this.

      Christ, Himself, was “rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief” (Is. 53: 3). He was crucified at the behest of the religious leadership of that day, who considered themselves righteous. As the Lord’s followers, we too experience rejection. But our suffering is not wasted or pointless. God uses it to conform us to the image of His Son (Rom. 8: 29).

      At the Last Judgment, there will be many claiming to be Christian. The Lord though will turn His back on those who failed to love their neighbor (Matt. 25: 41-43, Luke 13: 27). The church members who failed to treat you with love and kindness missed their opportunity. Let us hope they may yet have time to mend their ways.

      We are to love, Q. Despite rejection, despite pain. There is a poem associated with Audrey Hepburn that, I think, captures this truth. It reads, in part:

      “People, even more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived,
      reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone.
      Remember, if you ever need a helping hand, you will find one at the end of each of your arms.
      As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands:
      one for helping yourself, and the other for helping others.”

      We may never be able to confront those who hurt or shamed us. We certainly cannot go back, and change the past. But we can reach out in love to others…others who, like us, need to be restored and renewed. We can become the blessing we, ourselves, have sought.

      To answer your question, the true love that heals we find in Christ. He may use others to comfort us, and help us bear our burdens. But, in the end, only He can fill that empty place inside. No friend or loved one — not even a fellow church member — will do.

      • Q's Corner permalink

        This morning as I was examining Word Press I spotted a button I hadn’t seen before and clicked it to see what it was. Well there came up posts that I haven’t responded to, so here I am now.
        Anna, your words are full of truth and I relate to them deeply.
        ‘ No friend or loved one — not even a fellow church member — will do.’ Amen Sister!
        I am finally learning this lesson! Albeit, 63 yrs late, better late than never, they say.

  2. Q's Corner permalink

    Amen, Anna!

  3. ajppobrien permalink

    A very interesting and thought provoking piece of writing.

  4. Anna,

    As Christians we are no doubt familiar with the scripture where Jesus reminded the people that the poor would always be among us. While I know this to be true it bothers me that we can become callous to the plight of those in need,even to the point where we dismiss them as “it’s just the way it is”.

    Furthermore,the statistics you provide are clear indicators that something is terribly wrong in America if one in seven of us must rely upon assistance in order to feed our families. How are we to believe those that continually spout the mantra of an improving economy if our people cannot feed themselves? Yes,there has always been a small segment of the population that were dependent upon food banks and kitchens for some portion of their sustenance,but in my life I have never seen it on this scale.

    Again, something is amiss in America and I think the evidence is clear that there is more to the story than what is commonly told.

    Very thoughtful as well as sobering post Anna.

    Have a wonderful day.

    • Thank you for your response, Ron. I find it deeply troubling that so many well-off Christians seem to accept poverty as the natural course of things. God bless you.

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