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

  • Election Resources

    One of the best times to raise the issues of hunger and poverty is during election campaigns. Engage candidates in your state/district on hunger and poverty using our elections resources.
  • Racially Equitable Responses to Hunger During COVID-19 and Beyond

    By Marlysa D. Gamblin and Kathleen King

    The U.S. Department of Agriculture defines food insecurity as when a person or household does not have regular, reliable access to the foods needed for good health. Black, Indigenous, and Other People of Color (BIPOC) have historically had higher...

  • Fact Sheet: COVID-19 Global Pandemic, Better Nutrition Protects Lives

    With the coronavirus now spreading in low-resource contexts and new waves of infection expected in the coming year, better nutrition for vulnerable people is more important than ever.

For Faith

  • Finding Hope, Ending Hunger on Both Sides of the Border: A Bilingual Latino Devotional

    Devotional writers challenge us to feel the Spirit of God within us and to hear God’s urgent call to demand justice so all can put food on the table.
  • The Bible on Health as a Hunger Issue

    “As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him and established in faith.” These words from Colossians 2:6 remind us of the faith that is active in love for our neighbors.

    The Bible on...

  • Unity Declaration on Racism and Poverty

    A diverse body of Christian leaders calls on the churches and Congress to focus on the integral connection.

    Dear Members of Congress,

    As the president and Congress are preparing their plans for this year, almost 100 church leaders—from all the families of U.S. Christianity—are...

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