Love Thy Neighbor: True measure of society is how we care for the needy

August 2, 2017

Editor’s note: As our country endures a time of great divisiveness, Bread Blog begins a series today that reminds us of God’s commandment to “love your neighbor as yourself.” Blog posts will be written by members of the church relations department at Bread for the World.

By Divya Desai

We must stand together in opposition to those who would prey on those who do not have enough food. We must stand up our beliefs. And we must provide a way for their voices to be heard as we remember to “do unto others what you would have them do unto you.” (Matthew 7:12)

As a woman of faith, I follow the statements of Pope Francis with great interest.  The pope has dedicated his life to serving all God’s people and his deep commitment to caring for those trapped in poverty inspires me.

Many have said that the true measure of a society is how it cares for those in need. Pope Francis speaks often about how we are called to love our neighbor. He stated in the homily at his Installation Mass that we need to show our “loving concern for each and every person, especially children, the elderly, those in need, who are often the last we think about.”

In this country, one measure of our commitment to alleviating needless suffering is the availability of SNAP benefits. This program, formerly known as food stamps, serves as a vital source of aid to people and families facing hunger and food insecurity. In 2015 alone, SNAP helped 4.6 million Americans break the cycle of poverty and achieve independence.

The recently proposed fiscal year 2018 budget contains draconian cuts to SNAP and other key safety-net programs such as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), and the earned income tax credit. These programs serve as a safety-net for Americans who have fallen on hard times and need compassionate aid to get back on their feet. The suggested cuts fly in the face of core Christian values and should offend people of all faiths. If Congress enacts the horrifying budget cuts, it will be upsetting to know that more people will be hungry.

Because of the economic downturn, churches and charities are struggling to feed the hungry. One in 20 bags of food assistance comes from charitable organizations, while nutrition programs (TANF, SNAP, and WIC) help provide the rest. Deep cuts to these programs have already affected more than 47 million Americans and that number will only grow if Congress approves these cuts for the fiscal year 2018. We are inviting people across the United States to commit themselves to an intentional day of prayer and fasting once a month to advocate for Congress to protect nutrition programs.

Fully funding programs such as SNAP and TANF will alleviate hunger and poverty for millions of our American brothers and sisters. Individuals of all faiths and anyone who believes in Christian values must take action.

Divya Desai is a church relations intern at Bread for the World.

If Congress enacts the horrifying budget cuts, it will be upsetting to know that more people will be hungry.

from our Resource Library

For Education

  • The Nourishing Effect

    Hunger and food insecurity add at least $160 billion a year to U.S. healthcare costs.

  • The Impacts of Proposed Fiscal Year 2018 Budget Cuts on the Latino Community

    To end hunger and poverty in the United States by 2030, our country needs to support a budget that improves the lives of men, women, and children. Unfortunately, the Trump administration and Congress are proposing dramatic cuts to programs that promote economic opportunity or provide food...

  • The Dream Act of 2017 (S. 1615 & H.R. 3440)


    The United States is a nation of immigrants. Throughout its history, people have moved here from all over the world and have contributed to their communities and our national life. Today, as in the past, immigrants are also creating prosperity for this nation. 


For Faith

  • The Bible on Health as a Hunger Issue

    A brief examination of the biblical approach to health as a hunger issue.

    Includes an introduction to the issue, a Scriptural reflection, practical actions you can take, and a prayer.

  • Bread Newsletter January 2016

    In this issue: Another Great Year for Bread; Catholics Begin Observance of Holy Year of Mercy; Serving on ‘God’s Wave Length’ for 39 Years; and more.

  • Interfaith Religious Leaders’ Pledge to End Hunger

    A wide array of the nation’s faith leaders have come together on the eve of Pope Francis’ arrival in the United States to commit ourselves to encourage our communities to work for the end of hunger by 2030 and, toward that end, for a shift in U.S. national priorities.

    We are deeply pleased...

For Advocacy

  • Grassroots Advocacy Toolkit

    A set of how-to sheets for carrying out advocacy and fact sheets on the current issues Bread for the World is working on.

    For new and current Bread grassroots hunger activists.

    Ideal as a starter toolkit for new Bread activists or as a set of updates for current activists.


  • The State of Black Poverty: A Pan-African Millennial Perspective on Ending Hunger by 2030

    Over the past year and a half, about two-dozen young adults from the United States and countries in Africa and the Caribbean, have gathered virtually and in person to reflect on the effects of hunger and poverty in black communities. The working group has been considering socio-political and...

  • Fact Sheet: The Hunger-Medicaid Connection

    Congress is considering proposals that would jeopardize healthcare coverage for millions of poor and near-poor adults and children. 

    Legislation under consideration in the House and Senate would gut...