Scripture Reading: Matthew 14:13-21
When it was evening, the disciples came to him and said, ‘This is a deserted place, and the hour is now late; send the crowds away so that they may go into the villages and buy food for themselves.’ Jesus said to them, ‘They need not go away; you give them something to eat.’ –Matthew 14:15-16
Not having enough food to eat is not a resource issue in most instances; it is a justice issue. I support through my local church a food pantry at a sister congregation; the Regional Food Bank, a not for profit; a backpack weekend food program for our local inner-city school; the City Rescue Mission, a not for profit; and a sister congregation that primarily serves the homeless. While desperately needed these are bandages on infected sores.
- Everyone who works should have the resources to feed his or her family. About 70% of food stamp recipients work. In some of these households, more than one person works, or one person may have more than one job. In some instances, people work at the convenience of their employer. Thus their hours of work vary from week to week. I find it shameful with the amount of money we spend on the military industrial complex every year, we have soldiers whose families qualify for food stamps. The ceiling for food stamps is 133% of poverty. Food stamps are wage supplement for big business including the US government paying inadequate wages.
- Our mental health services system is broken. People with mental health issues who get the right supervision, treatment, and medication can become self-supportive. The opioid problem in our country is extreme and growing. Many with mental health issues live on the street with routine stops at the local jail for minor offenses. The jail may be the only place they have a safe bed and routine food. Crime records are often not welcomed by employers.
- The poverty level serves as the base for computing the amount of Social Security received by people who have a disability or are aged. Raising the base for Social Security to 133% of poverty would provide a higher level of income for these people and reduce the cost of administering the food stamp program for them. Of course, 133% of poverty is a bare necessities income. The base could be increased even more if we raised income for the program by eliminating the cap on income taxed for Social Security. For earnings in 2017, this base is $127,200. Why was the cap created in the first place? No one knows.
While we do our good works, we must remember to seek justice also.
Prayer: God of the Harvest, grant us the wisdom to provide from your bounty the food that all need to sustain life in fulfilling your call to do justice. Amen.