Since switching churches to the Emmaus House Chapel I have had the opportunity to help teach Sunday school to the kids. This past Sunday the lesson was based on Mark 1:40-45 where a man with leprosy is healed by Jesus. Even though Jesus tells him not to tell anyone who healed him, the man goes into town so excited and thankful about what has happened that he tells everyone. I had the kids share about stories where they were told secrets and were so excited they accidently told other people. After the discussion, all the kids filled out little pieces of paper stating what they are thankful to God for and want everyone to know, and they taped them up on a poster board.
Unsure of how the kids would respond to the activity I was surprised to see how much thought they put into it. In particular, one boy who I’ve gotten to know put a lot of thought into what he wrote. He quietly got up, taped his paper up, and looked at what everyone else was putting up. Then one of the other kids blurted out, while laughing, “who wrote they were thankful for food stamps!?” This boy looked at the group of kids and simply said, “I did…you know some of us wouldn’t have anything to eat without them.” And he walked off. While some of the kids continued to laugh, there seemed to be a sense of understanding amongst others.
This boy spoke a truth that not only he faces, or his friends may face, but what millions of people across this country face every day. In my neighborhood, Peoplestown, it is an issue I see daily. The Senior’s discussing the need for more money because food is expensive, writing constant referrals to various food banks around the city, Emmaus House’s own food pantry on Friday’s, and the number of kids I know on free or reduced-price meals at school.
In 2010, 14.5 percent of households (17.2 million households, 48.8 million Americans) were considered food insecure. Also, 5.4 percent of households (6.4 million households) experienced very low food security. Food security is defined as access to enough food for an active, healthy lifestyle. 16.9 percent of households in Georgia experienced low food security from 2008-2010.
Here are some national hunger and poverty statistics:
- 46.2 million Americans (15.1 percent) are now living in poverty according to the latest report released by the US Census Bureau American Communities Survey profile in September 2011 – up by 3.3 million people from the 42.9 million reported in last year’s report. (U.S. Census Bureau American Communities Survey Profile2010. Data released Sept. 2011)
- In 2010, 4.8 percent of all U.S. households (5.6 million households) accessed emergency food from a food pantry one or more times.
- In 2010, 59.2 percent of food-insecure households participated in at least one of the three major Federal food assistance programs –Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (formerly Food Stamp Program), The National School Lunch Program, and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children.
Here are some more hunger and poverty statistics for Georgia:
- Nearly 1.7 million Georgians (17.9%) are living in poverty according to the latest US Census Bureau American Community Survey report released in September 2011. This is up from 1.6 million (16.5%) in 2009, and represents an increase of 100,000 people in poverty. (U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey Profile. 2010. Data released Sept. 2011)
- An estimated 1.4 million different Georgians receive emergency food from partner agencies of Georgia food banks. (Feeding America “Hunger in America 2010” Study)
- The number of Georgia households receiving food stamps jumped from 581,709 total households in July of 2009 to 716,749 households in July of 2010 – an increase of 23.2% in just one year. (USDA Food and Nutrition Service, Data and Statistics Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program – Number of Households Participating, released Oct. 2010)
- When the Federal minimum wage rate went from $6.55 to $7.25/hour in July of 2009, Georgia once again did not increase its minimum wage rate. (It remains at $5.15/hour.) Georgia is currently one of only five states with minimum wage rates lower than the Federal minimum wage rate. (U.S. Dept. of Labor, Employment Standards Admin. 2009)
Check out feedingamerica.org to get more information. Also, get involved and learn more about the issues of hunger in your area. Food banks nationwide need donations, both food and monetary.
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