At the end of September, ELCA World Hunger giving lagged about $400,000 behind giving for the same period in 2012. Concern was palpable among World Hunger staff who see the impact of members’ gifts, which go directly to help people living in poverty in the U.S. and around the world.
Staff had high hopes that Christmas and end-of-the-year giving would bring in even more than the usual boost. Nearly half of World Hunger gifts come at the end of the year, thanks in part to the ELCA Good Gifts catalog.
Meanwhile domestic hunger is becoming more of an issue. As of Nov. 1, Congress’ temporary increase (since 2009) in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program(SNAP) benefits for low-income families had expired. Many affected families are seeking additional help from Lutheran social service providers and congregations with food pantries and feeding programs.
In Bloomfield, Iowa, ELCA member Monica Blum helps with her congregation’s “Caring for Our Community with God’s Help” free lunch on the last Saturday of the month — when Social Security checks and SNAP benefits tend to run low. Good Shepherd Lutheran Church’s free meal program is supported by an ELCA World Hunger grant. More than 8 percent of Bloomfield’s 2,600 residents receive SNAP benefits, according to 2010 census data.
Every Tuesday in Anchorage, Alaska, Jane (name changed to protect her identity), a school crossing guard who lives in a tiny, bedbug-infested apartment, picks up fresh produce from a mobile food pantry run by Lutherans. Jane, who also receives government food benefits, is grateful for the “cauliflower, broccoli, onions, lemons, yogurt, rice, breads and even pies sometimes.”
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© 2016 Augsburg Fortress, Publishers