Hunger in America

In the late nineties, I taught in a school that was what we would call a Title 1 school. 98% of the children in the school received free or reduced lunch. Parents worked several minimum wage jobs to keep roofs over their heads and clothe their families. Many of the children lived in homes where drug use, prostitution, and violence were a part of life. On weekends, I would hide ready-to-eat food items in their backpacks so that they had something to eat before Monday morning breakfast in the school cafeteria. I hid the food because sometimes older siblings or adults would steal the food from the child. Several times I reported, testified, and made home visits in the interest of caring for those wonderful little ones. As my uncle says, “You can do ministry anywhere”.

In the Gospel According to Matthew, we hear the word of the Lord, “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.” Anytime we reach out in love to feed those who are hungry, care for those who are sick, clothe those who are naked, we are serving God and our neighbor. We must remember that sometimes the need is obvious, but there are times when we need to look deeper to see the need and answer it.

As with so many problems in the United States, it takes celebrity or tragedy to bring our deep issues to the mainstream. NGO’s, Faith-based Organizations, State and Federal Programs, and Congregations have been working for years to meet the needs of the hungry. Now, Top Chef producer and judge, Tom Colicchio gives us a film that gets to the heart of the matter – A Place at the Table. 

People of God must continue to respond to the needs of children who live at or below the poverty line. Much of that response is for children who live thousands of miles away whose needs are visibly apparent. Right now, within a two-mile radius of so many of us, children are hungry. How are we serving those who do not necessarily “look” hungry? It is not an either/or proposition. It is both/and! As children of God, we have the responsibility to feed them all, giving everyone a place at God’s table.

peace,
melanie

RESOURCES:

Feeding America - Food insecurity is harmful to any individual, it can be particularly devastating among children due to their increased vulnerability and the potential for long-term consequences

Bread for the World - Bread for the World is a collective Christian voice urging our nation’s leaders to end hunger at home and abroad

Society of St. Andrew - Gleaning America’s Fields and Feeding America’s Hungry

Stop Hunger Now –  An international hunger relief organization that coordinates the distribution of food and other life-saving aid around the world

State of Children in the United States – Map of the state of America’s children

Calling All Teachers

Make a way for children

Many of you know that I was a public school teacher in South Carolina for nearly 15 years.  A friend of mine recently asked me if I miss teaching.  After rambling on about what I didn’t miss about teaching, I realized that I miss the things that truly matter.  I miss that “aha” moment when a child gets it for the first time after struggling with a concept.  I miss those smiles and frowns.  I miss listening to their dreams and experiences and thoughts about the world.  I miss figuring out how to teach in ways that children will learn and use what they have learned.  I miss seeing them transform. 

Our children are the most precious responsibility that we are given, whether they are by birth, by adoption, by community, or by zoning!  We have a responsibility to all children to put their needs ahead of ours.  There is no prefect formula, but we should make every effort possible to give all children the opportunity to develop and grow in environments where they feel loved and safe.  Why?  Jesus tells us to make a way for children, avoiding being stumbling blocks.  Our Methodist heritage is steeped in removing children from workhouses, and providing a place for them to learn and grow. 

This year will be filled with political speeches and promises and debates.  In all of this, remember children… All Children!  There is only one opportunity to be a child. 

 

Update from the Children’s Defense Fund
Fiscal Year 2012 Appropriations

In mid-December, House and Senate negotiators agreed on an omnibus spending bill for FY2012 which funds the federal government through September of this year. Early childhood advocates have reason to celebrate the outcome for young children and families. In this harsh funding climate, a number of important early childhood programs and services were protected or expanded:

  • Head Start received an increase of $424 million.
  • Child Care Development Block Grant (CCDBG) received an increase of $60 million.
  • Title I received an increase of $60 million.
  • Part C Early Intervention received an increase of $5 million.
  • Race to the Top received $550 million, which is less than last year’s $698 million. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan will determine how much of the $550 million will be dedicated to the Early Learning Challenge. The Statement of Managers accompanying the bill says they “expect that the Secretary will include a robust early childhood component.”
  • Striving Readers received $160 million with 15% of the funding directed at birth to age five literacy in early childhood programs (community and school-based settings).

 

peace,
melanie

 

 

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