According to a study from the nation's largest food bank operator, Feeding America, 37 million people received food aid in 2009. That is roughly 1 out of every 7 Americans. Feeding America, formerly America’s Second Harvest, operates some 200 food banks across the country.
The Second Harvest Food Bank of the Chattahoochee Valley provides emergency food for an estimated 65,900 different people annually, with 45% of them children under 18 years old. The study found a growing number of people having to make difficult choices about what to spend their dwindling dollars on, with the rising cost of health care a major contributing factor to hunger. Some 43% of clients served in our area of the Chattahoochee Valley report having to choose between paying for food and paying for utilities or heating fuel, while 46% had to choose between paying for food and paying for medicine or medical care. You can see more details about the study specifically related to the Chattahoochee Valley.
We can thank God for people of faith being committed to living out the Great Commandment (see Matthew 22:33-40). Here in our area 89% of pantries, 100% of kitchens, and 60% of shelters are run by faith-based agencies affiliated with churches, mosques, synagogues, and other religious organizations. All of this is consistently relevant for our churches as we partner with FOCUS of Harris County to serve some of these very families in need. Each month a special offering is taken to support FOCUS, with other opportunities mentioned throughout the year.
It is also especially timely, coming off another successful Souper Bowl Sunday. Our church's contribution of $137, stretched through the ability of FOCUS to purchase directly from Feeding America for pennies on the dollar, will enable parents to provide for families in the midst of these hard times. You can read more about the great, grassroots campaign that is the Souper Bowl movement here.
We remember Jesus' call for us to serve the least of these, knowing that in so doing we are about the very work of God.