This past Sunday I had the opportunity to speak at mass about my experience volunteering at a food pantry in relation to the annual letter writing campaign of Bread for the World, and below is the text of my appeal. If you would like to write to your Congressional representatives and Senators to advocate legislative solutions to hunger, click here. Find your representatives here and Senators here. More information about Bread for the World is available at their organization website. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to learn more about the Cincinnati chapter of this national group.
I’m here today to ask for your participation in the Bread for the World Offering of Letters, right after mass. Tables will be set up in the narthex where you’ll write brief letters to Congress based on suggested text. It’s a direct and easy way to advocate legislative solutions to hunger.
I have been blessed the past two years to volunteer on Wednesday afternoons at the Bond Hill Food Pantry at Church of the Resurrection Catholic Church, just off Reading Road a short distance north of here. It is a place of true hospitality where an eclectic group of volunteers and clients together create a community.
As I guide people through the pantry, in a certain way it’s like being at the grocery store. There are shelves of canned vegetable and fruits, laundry soap, soups, etc. and we fill brown grocery bags with their selections. But no matter how warm the welcome we extend, the underlying reality is that our clients come because they don’t have enough to eat. A number of them are employed but can’t make ends meet. Many are elderly or disabled. They wait in line to get inside the pantry, then to be checked in, and then to shop. Many do not have their own transportation and must seek help getting their groceries home. They may only visit the pantry once per month, and they must live in the geographic area we serve. When I’m putting items in my own cart at Kroger, I am aware of the plenty that I enjoy by comparison, and it bothers me that so many lack food. The need is great and growing, not just in Bond Hill but everywhere.
That is why I am asking you to take a few minutes this morning to ask members of Congress to prioritize and protect programs vital to hungry people in the United States and around the world. Today’s Offering of Letters emphasizes two potential reforms. First, Bread for the World proposes pragmatic reforms to U.S. international food aid programs, such as purchasing relief food closer to the crisis situation from local farmers and ensuring more nutritious relief food for young children and pregnant women. Second, the letters highlight the negative effects of recent cuts to the food stamp, or SNAP, program, which affect many families by $50-$100 per month. It’s been estimated that to make up for these cuts, churches and charities would have to increase their current food assistance by nearly 10 times. That is an overwhelming prospect for any pantry.
Please take a few minutes in the narthex after mass to write letters on behalf of the hungry. All parish letters will be delivered directly to our legislators. Please also consider making a financial contribution to Bread for the World to support their faith-based hunger advocacy work. Collection boxes are located at the chapel exits. And finally, if you feel inspired to get involved in a pantry, signups are available in the narthex to volunteer at several pantries where parishioners are involved.