The board chair of Bread for the World (Bread) came to see me yesterday. David Minor lives and works in Indianapolis – works full time as an advocate for people against hunger. What a story he has! Several years back he was already heavily involved in Bread, and was invited to take on another major task. A Ph.D. chemist working for Lilly, his wife questioned his taking on one more, big task. There are only so many hours in a day!
He knew she was right. So – he made the only rational decision. He stepped down from Lilly! To work full time against hunger.
Now he was in my office (along with Les Galbraith, local Disciple anti-hunger activist; Ron Degges, President of Disciples Home Missions; and LaMarco Cable of Division of Overseas Ministries but soon to be working for Bread.)
Here’s what blew my mind (other than David’s story!) Ninety-three percent of the food distributed to hungry people in Indianapolis comes from national sources. All the church food pantries plus the several well-known, community-organized anti-hunger organizations together only amount to 7% of food aid to economically disadvantaged people in our city. (Thank God for all these hands-on efforts. They make a huge difference in dire food emergencies.)
But when the legislature proposes “only” a 2% cut in SNAP (food stamps), tens of thousands of people (including defenseless children) will be hungrier. And when people think that churches should fill the gap, they usually do not understand the size of the gap.
As I look out the window this morning I see a gray, rainy day (the fourth in a row.) My furnace is running, so I know it’s cold outside. I’ve just poured my second cup of coffee and popped some bread in the toaster. But a lot of people, not too far from my house, are hungry today – choosing between food and heat, or food and medicine. Their children are in school trying to focus on what the teacher is saying though their stomach is growling.
So here’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to be sure and bring some food to my church’s food pantry this week. I’m going to make an over-and-above donation to Disciples Home Mission, marked for hunger relief — to accompany my normal contribution to Week of Compassion. And I’m going to urge Disciples congregations to consider joining with Bread for the World in an offering of letters to help our legislators recognize the people behind the 1 or 2% reductions in aid.
Jesus spent so much time at table with his followers and friends. He asked us to love our neighbor as ourselves. As part of a Disciples movement for wholeness that welcomes all to the Lord’s Table, I’m hoping we’ll also help people set real time family tables with food for the body as well as the soul.