Hunger is not a game

Published 1:33 am Saturday, September 21, 2013

People around here aren’t hungry, or so we’d like to believe.

But people are, and they are likely to be turning more and more to charities to fill the aches in their bellies if a bill passed by the U.S. House of Representatives this week meets with success in the Senate. The House bill would cut $40 billion from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) over 10 years.

In Alabama, approximately 914,000 currently receive SNAP benefits. That’s 61 percent more than were on the rolls at the beginning of the economic downturn five years ago.

How many of those would lose benefits under the proposed cuts is unclear. But even with those benefits, the need for help with basic necessities is clear in Covington County.

In just one week in Andalusia this past summer, the Covington Baptist Association gave 3,680 pounds of food to 347 people.

Today, St. Mary’s celebrates the first birthday of its Rice and Beans Ministry. A year ago, the church provide staples for 35 families. In recent months, at least 90 families per month have shown up for a hot breakfast and basic staples – rice, beans, peanut butter, bread. More than 7,500 pounds of food has been given away in the past year.

First Presbyterian recently began providing hot meals to those in need, as well.

And in 2012, the St. Vincent DePaul Society of Christ the King Catholic Church distributed 23,321 pounds of food to more than 1,300 families.

Next Saturday, members of Christ the King are asking members of the community to walk to raise awareness for the poor. Participants are asked to bring canned goods or to give a monetary donation. The two-mile walk, which is not a race, will be followed with a breakfast in the church hall. The event begins at 8 a.m.

For those who live from paycheck to paycheck, or even those who have a small bit of savings, an injury or an illness can quickly put them in need. Pay it forward, and help these organizations fight hunger.

Hunger is not a game. It is real, and it is here.