We have a growing issue within the United States where over 42 million people have food insecurity. While poverty and food insecurity are not the same, they are very tightly linked. Those in certain demographic and geographic areas have larger challenges. Especially in areas where affordable, good quality fresh food is available. While unemployment plays a part, another key issue is many of these folks are in food deserts. A food desert is a part of a city where a large number of people live more than a mile from a grocery store. Unfortunately, it mostly affects lower income areas where they end up buying most of their food from convenience stores whose food have very little nutritional benefit. The 2015 numbers* are staggering:
- 42.2 million Americans lived in food insecure households, including 29.1 million adults and 13.1 million children.
- 13 percent of households (15.8 million households) were food insecure.
- 5 percent of households (6.3 million households) experienced very low food security.
With the resources we have in America, there should never be a hungry child.
“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’(Matthew 25: 27-40 NIV)
Those with resources of time or money have a charge from Jesus help those in more difficult situations. One Christmas, my brother and I, with our families, decided we wanted to do something for others instead of buying needless Christmas gifts. So we agreed to serve a breakfast at a local homeless shelter. We purchased the food, got there early and had the opportunity to prepare and serve a warm breakfast to about 75 women. We were able to show the love of Christ and make sure they had a warm meal in the cold winter weather. We then gave them gloves and socks to help keep them warm. We did not miss opening the gifts that Christmas because we knew that money was put to much better use.
Students at Oral Roberts University decided to turn Halloween inside out. Instead of getting dressed up and asking for candy, the students went to local neighborhoods and asked for canned food. The donations would be taken to a local food bank. The response from the community was so great they have made it an annual tradition. Not only do the students get to help feed the hungry, they are also on hand to pray for those donating the food. Everyone wins when we become the hands and feet of Jesus.
Today decide to go around your neighborhood and ask for cans of food or warm coats/blankets to donate to a local church or food bank. Not only will you help feed the hungry, you will also get to meet your neighbor. As a way to give back, ask your neighbors how you can pray for them. Watch how God moves in your obedience to serve the least of these.
* Note: Coleman-Jensen, A., Rabbitt, M. P., Gregory, C., & Singh, A. (2016). Household Food Security in the United States in 2015. USDA ERS.