Friday, December 19, 2014
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Inside Washington

What happens in the halls of national government – for better or for worse – can dictate the future course of America. Along with your fellow Prayer Team members, you are to be constantly and fervently interceding for all the men and women who serve in Congress, for your military leaders in the Pentagon, and for the President of the United States, his cabinet and administration.

“Inside Washington” will equip you to do just that … with reports on the nation’s leaders and the decisions they’re considering … or have already made. We’ll examine the implications for the nation, and call you to specific prayer for those needs.

The Food Ladder

Inside Washington

Hungry Americans turn to food pantries for help

By Louie Christensen

It is difficult to imagine that the citizens of the land of the Big Mac, and the home of the Whopper would struggle with something as “Third World” as hunger. But, in 2013 an estimated 20 percent of households in the United States were struggling with food security. How can so many go hungry when there is so much extra food laying around? The sad truth is that by the time you finish reading this sentence an estimated 36,000 pounds of food will be thrown away in the United States alone. That’s right, the United States has so much food that it throws away 133 billion pounds of it annually; that’s a whopping 31 percent of America’s available food supply in the trash…every year.

With so many families suffering from hunger in America what is being done to combat the issue? Did you donate to a food drive this season? How many cans did your church send to the local food pantry? Was it enough? Sure, the goal was hit (or exceeded) but was it really enough? There is one enormous oversight that could keep hunger in America a never ending problem. It isn’t the economy, or the shortcomings of a failed government program…it is the belief that filling a food pantry is an acceptable goal to fight against hunger.

Why does someone go to a food pantry? It’s because they are already hungry. So, for the time being, the climb out of hunger doesn’t resemble a ladder, it looks more like an M.C. Escher staircase. Because when a program’s end goal is filling a food pantry, the program isn’t doing anything to solve the hunger making its existence necessary.

Imagine what your life would look like if you solved problems based on that model. You finally pay your taxes when the IRS seizes your assets. You see a marriage counselor when you file the divorce papers. You finally see a doctor about your back pain once you get rushed to the hospital for back spasms. Seems ridiculous doesn’t it?

So why is feeding people once they can’t stand being hungry anymore an acceptable way of fighting hunger?  

Churches around the nation have done a remarkable job keeping food pantries stocked, and this is in no way meant to cut down the amazing generosity thousands have already shown. In fact a recent poll done by Lifeway Study found that 22 percent of the people surveyed had at some point turned to church food pantries to feed their families. The church’s ability to give is remarkable. But, churchgoers shouldn’t be happy with “good enough.” There are two crucial steps missing from the equation the church needs to push for in 2015.

Number one: America needs to find a way to give to the needy before they reach hunger. Number two: America needs to help people climb out of hunger, not just help them live in it.

The first step remains giving, and then giving some more. There needs to be a surplus for any progress to hold its ground.

Next, groups that fight against hunger need to start designing programs to get donated food into the homes of the almost-hungry and those who will need to turn to a food pantry soon. Maybe open centers with donated food items sold at discounted prices (with all profits feeding back into the store or community) to help families who are too proud to receive free food. Last year only 62 percent of families suffering from food insecurity turned to food assistance programs. That’s 38 percent who, for one reason or another, wouldn’t accept help.

Lastly, study after study has found that poverty and obesity go hand and hand. There is hope, hosting cooking and nutritional classes will help equip individuals with the knowledge they need to prepare more health conscious meals for their families.

This week pray for the families who are hungry tonight. Pray that they start to fight their way out of hunger, and pray that someone will reach out to them with a helping hand. Pray for the organizations, both federal and non-profit, who are dedicated to helping those who need it most.

Louie Christensen is a recent graduate of the University of Arizona. He works as an Account Executive in Scottsdale Arizona.



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