Christian Leaders Tell Congress that Feeding Hungry People is not the Sole Responsibility of the Church
Washington, DC, April 26, 2012
Pastors and religious leaders from various sized congregations today shared their concern about proposed cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly food stamps).
The House of Representatives recently recommended cutting more than $169 billion from the SNAP program. Some representatives argued that feeding hungry people is really the work of the churches.
“America’s churches are already doing their fair share,” said Sister Margaret Mary Kimmins, OSF, of Bread for the World. “We challenge our fellow pastors and their congregations to tell Congress, ‘No more cuts because they only hurt poor people.’”
Some congressional leaders are essentially saying that every church across America — big or tiny — needs to come up with an extra $50,000 dedicated to feeding people — every year for the next 10 years — to make up for these cuts.
The Hartford Institute for Religion and Research estimates there are 335,000 religious congregations in the United States. If the proposals by the House of Representatives to cut SNAP by $133.5 billion and $36 billion are enacted, each congregation will have to spend approximately $50,000 more annually to feed those who would see a reduction or loss of benefits.
“It would be devastating if our church had to do more than we already do,” said Rev. Barb Hobe, pastor of Bethany United Church of Christ in Lebanon, OH. “Many of our members are living paycheck to paycheck and just can’t do more.”
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Listen to remarks by faith leaders on the proposed cuts to SNAP.
“The congregation I serve is made up of working poor and unemployed people,” said Rev. Adan Mairena, West Kensington Ministry (Philadelphia, PA). “All of us are called to work for the common good and Congress cannot pass this responsibility solely on to churches.”
“In addition to being poor some of our congregants are also struggling with housing and unemployment challenges,” said Bishop Ervin Sims, Jr., of Mount Carmel Church of God in Christ (Kansas City, KS). “Congress needs to better understand the need we serve every day. Another $50,000 a year is unrealistic.”
More than 46 million Americans depend on SNAP to help put food on their tables every day. SNAP has prevented our nation’s economic crisis from turning into a hunger crisis. Congress must not turn its back on our nation’s commitment to protect vulnerable people from hunger.
Bread for the World is a collective Christian voice urging our nation's decision makers to end hunger at home and abroad.
Kristen Y. Archer, Acting Manager for Media Relations, 202-688-1118