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.
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