Saturday, May 21, 2011

Hunger in American Children

Back in the Fall, two of my kids brought home a letter from school stating that they had been accepted to receive grocery assistance given by a local church. They operate a ministry to low income families through my children's elementary school. While I love getting things for free, I was taken aback by this letter because I couldn't imagine how we had been placed on the list to receive assistance. It just didn't add up. Sure, we're not rolling in the dough...but I didn't think we were supposed to have received this letter. After all, our pantry & refrigerator are routinely overflowing, we have a roof over our heads, warm beds to sleep in, an abundance of clothing and so much more. After making some phone calls & sending some emails, I got the kids removed from the program's list and learned about a really cool ministry! Even though I don't attend the sponsoring church, I wanted in! I am a sucker for helping kids. I sent a few emails & was welcomed into the volunteer team for this awesome program. I love how God orchestrated all the details so that I could get involved...before those letters, I never even knew the group existed!

The Backpack Club offers assistance to low income families by packing a backpack full of shelf stable nutritious foods to feed a child through the weekend when they can't be at school to receive breakfast & lunch through the school cafeteria. The sponsoring church provides a team of volunteers who make a commitment to serve through one school year. Food & supplies are provided through grants & donations from local food banks. Each team of volunteers has a specific task to make the Backpack Club a success. At our elementary campus, one team takes up the backpacks on Monday mornings when the children return them. Another team packs the food & seals each backpack with zip-ties. Another team hands out the backpacks to all the kids at the end of the week. I was honored to get to be a part of the team that distributes the backpacks. Seeing all those little faces made it so worthwhile to get up early & be at the school all those Friday mornings.

In recent years, I've seen a big growth in Christian families pursuing adoption. I am thrilled to see them very literally living out the gospel by accepting a child into their home & family. Larry & I have lived that journey & it's so very rewarding. It's such a great reminder that we, as Christians, were all 'adopted' by Christ. We were each lifted out of our own mess & made righteous by His blood, allowing us to become heirs of His riches & glory. But many families aren't able to pursue adoption for a variety of reasons. They commit to praying for their friends who are adopting, or they offer financial or other types of support during their friends' adoption journeys. Some of them choose to sponsor a child through groups like Compassion International, Parental Care Ministries or World Vision to fulfill the words of James 1:27 that say "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress..." All of these are amazing options for families who want to help children around the world. Larry & I have had the chance to be involved with the ministries offered by all three of these groups in one way or another over the years.

But this morning at our end of the year Backpack Club brunch, another option was presented to us! For less than the cost of sponsoring a child through one of the amazing organizations above, you could feed a hungry child right here in our community for an entire school year through the Backpack Club! It takes about $145 to feed 1 child for 1 school year. (Most of the child sponsorship organizations would cost about $270 for the same amount of time.) While I am certainly not discouraging you from adopting or sponsoring a child if you are able to, I want you to consider this as well!

I think most of us imagine 'hungry children' looking like these kids.

But the reality is, there are 17 million children in America who struggle with hunger as well. They might look like the little boy at the bus stop or your next door neighbor or the kid on your daughter's basketball team.

Fortunately, most of us will never know what it feels like to be hungry. Really hungry. And I don't just mean what it's like to reach the 7 or 8 hour mark between meals. But there are families right here in America who feel it every day.

If you live local to me & are interested in getting involved with the Backpack Club or sponsoring a child to be fed next year, please get in touch! I would be glad to connect you with the right people. As always, you can email me (see the "contact me" post it note in the right sidebar) or leave a comment here.

Matthew 25: 34-40
34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

Can you help the least of these?


Amber @ Striving For 31 said...

Our church does this backpack ministry for 3 area elementary schools! Everyone donates food and then there are 2 people who pack the backpacks and take them to the school each week. There is a huge need for this kind of thing!

Nutrition Facts said...

We American's are fond of eating fast food. . which is not good for health !!