Category : Poverty

(Guardian) Social supermarkets offer choice and self-esteem to hard-up workers

In the crypt of a 283-year-old London church, you would not normally expect to see displays of fresh fruit, vegetables, meat and fish next to shelves of tinned food, toilet rolls and nappies, and customers with baskets doing their weekly shop.

But from September, that will be the scene at the City of London’s first social supermarket, which is to open in the vaults of Christ Church Spitalfields, a Nicholas Hawksmoor-designed church close to the financial district. It will replace a food bank set up during the pandemic that has been used by 20 to 70 families a week during the past year.

Small social supermarkets have been springing up across the UK in recent years, some of them having started out as food banks. (At a social supermarket users pay for their groceries, but get a large discount.) They cater for low-income families – in the case of Christ Church these are referred by the local primary school – and pay a membership fee and/or a weekly fee for their shop.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), Dieting/Food/Nutrition, England / UK, Parish Ministry, Poverty, Religion & Culture

(BBC) East Africa drought: ‘The suffering here has no equal’

Families have become desperate for food and water. Millions of children are malnourished. Livestock, which pastoralist families rely on for food and livelihoods, have died.

The drought stretches far beyond this small Kenyan village and the UN’s World Food Programme says up to 20 million people in East Africa are at risk of severe hunger.

Ethiopia is battling the worst drought in almost half a century and in Somalia 40% of the population are at risk of starvation.

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Posted in Africa, Climate Change, Weather, Dieting/Food/Nutrition, Ecology, Energy, Natural Resources, Poverty

(WSJ) Food Banks Are Serving More People Again as Inflation Squeezes Budgets

Food banks are straining to meet growing demand caused by rising food prices, which are pinching budgets for households and the organizations themselves.

Forgotten Harvest, which serves the metro Detroit area, said demand increased 25% to 45% since December in different areas it serves. In March alone, demand rose 30% compared with the previous month.

Christopher Ivey, a spokesman for the food rescue, says metro Detroit is at the front of the bell curve, experiencing economic ripples before they hit other parts of the U.S.

“The need is growing quickly, as gas prices are continuing to rise,” he said. “As you know, there are shortages in the grocery store and the costs of the commodity goods are going up and up and up,” he said, adding that the organization is challenged by the increased demand but is still able to fulfill the needs of the public.

With inflation at a four-decade high, American households are feeling the pinch of higher prices across a range of products and services. The price of food at grocery stores in March was 10% higher than a year earlier, while food prices at restaurants were 6.9% higher than in March 2021, according to the Labor Department’s most recent consumer-price index.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Dieting/Food/Nutrition, Economy, Personal Finance, Poverty

(Church Times) Long-term strategy needed to tackle rising child poverty, says C of E report

A cross-departmental strategy with formal government structures and the “active commitment of the Prime Minister” is needed to address rising levels of child poverty in the UK, a new report from the Church of England concludes.

The report, published on Thursday, is based on consultations with 14 charitable organisations, which were contacted by the Bishop of Durham, the Rt Revd Paul Butler, and the Second Church Estates Commissioner, Andrew Selous MP, in January 2021. The organisations, which include the Children’s Society and the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, were invited to submit their ideas for a child poverty strategy, focused on tackling the underlying or systemic causes of poverty.

The consensus was that child poverty was a serious issue that was already on the rise before the pandemic, but had worsened during it: 4.3 million children were living in poverty in 2019 to 2020 and at least 120,000 more children were drawn into poverty as a result of Covid-19.

The Prime Minister and MPs, the report explains, have quoted from absolute poverty measures, which suggest that child poverty has remained stable since 2010, rising by only 100,000 between 2010 and 2020. This is measured against a substantial fall of 1.2 million (1.8 million before housing costs) over the previous decade (2000 to 2010), when Labour was in Government.

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Posted in Anthropology, Children, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Poverty, Religion & Culture, Theology

(Church Times) Africans starve while the world watches Ukraine

Humanitarian organisations have warned that the huge response to the war in Ukraine is overshadowing other crises around the world that are in need of urgent attention.

Charities and NGOs have begun urging governments and individuals not to forget the millions who are suffering in other countries.

The United Nations has warned that the situation in Somalia, where 4.5 million people are at risk of starvation owing to the worst drought in a decade, is deteriorating rapidly. The focus of the international community on Ukraine was sucking all the oxygen out of the room, Adam Abdelmoula, the UN humanitarian coordinator for Somalia, said last week.

The UN has said that $1.46 billion (£1.1 billion) is required to meet the immediate needs of Somalis. Only three per cent of that has been secured.

“The outlook was already grim prior to the outbreak of the Ukraine crisis,” Mr Abdelmoula said. “We have been overshadowed by the crisis in Tigray, Yemen, Afghanistan — and now Ukraine seems to suck all the oxygen that is in the room. . .

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Posted in Africa, Dieting/Food/Nutrition, Globalization, Poverty, Ukraine

(WSJ) A Quarter of Africans Face Food-Security Crisis Partly Due to Ukraine War, Red Cross Says

A quarter of Africa’s population is facing a food-security crisis driven by severe drought, raging wars and a rise in world food prices caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the International Committee of the Red Cross warned Tuesday.

Some 346 million people, from Mauritania in the west to the Horn of Africa in the east, are affected by food insecurity, Dominik Stillhart, the agency’s global operations director, told reporters in Nairobi.

“What we don’t want to see is the response that comes too late, and that is why it is so important to draw attention to the situation now,” Mr. Stillhart said.

Russia and Ukraine were major grain suppliers before the war, and the conflict is causing pain across the developing world, spurring price shocks, constraining imports of basic commodities and causing food shortages, with poorer nations in Africa especially affected.

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Posted in Africa, Dieting/Food/Nutrition, Globalization, Military / Armed Forces, Poverty, Russia, Ukraine

(Church Times) Church ‘reaching the limit’ on what it can do to alleviate poverty, says Dr Inge

The Bishop of Worcester, Dr John Inge, has criticised the Government’s Spring Statement for not doing enough to alleviate pressures on the poor, and said that the Church was “reaching the limit” as to what it could do to cover the shortfall.

Dr Inge was speaking in a debate on the Spring Statement in the Grand Committee of the House of Lords on Thursday.

“While it is clear that the measures announced in the Spring Statement and previously by the Chancellor on energy prices and other measures will help lower-income families, it is far from clear that they will compensate for price inflation,” he said. “The fact is that they most likely will not. It is also the case that, while the increase in prices is universal, the support offered by these measures is not, and there will be vulnerable groups who will not feel their impact.”

Dr Inge said that the Church had been “very active in seeking to alleviate poverty and everything associated with it since the crash of over ten years ago”, but it needed more support from the Government.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Poverty, Religion & Culture

(Telegraph) Ambrose Evans-Pritchard–Putin’s energy shock is broadening into a world food crisis, so brace for rationing

Record food commodity prices are an ordeal by fire for some 45 poorer countries that rely heavily on food imports: the Maghreb, the non-oil Middle East, swaths of Africa, Bangladesh, or Afghanistan. The World Food Programme warned of “catastrophic” scarcity for several hundred million people last November. The picture is worse today.

“Everything is going up vertically. The whole production chain for food is under pressure from every side,” said Abdolreza Abbassian, the ex-head of agro-markets at the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation.

“I have never seen anything like it in 30 years and I fear that prices are going to go much higher in the 2022-2023 season. The situation is just awful and at some point people are going to realise what may be coming. We’re all going to have to tighten our belts, and the mood could get very nasty even in OECD countries like Britain,” he said.

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Posted in Dieting/Food/Nutrition, Globalization, Military / Armed Forces, Poverty, Russia, Ukraine

(Northern Echo) St Nicholas Church Durham offers practical help to North East people

A City centre church is to offer practical support for local people suffering financial hardships.

St Nicholas Church, in the Market Place, Durham, has announced it will be able to raise money for those in need to purchase a specific needed item, such as replacing a broken cooker for a family struggling financially or equipping someone with interview clothes to help get a job.

This potential support is made possible through a new partnership with Acts 435, a national online charity that gives donors the opportunity to connect with people who need help.

Acts 435 enables St Nicholas, or St Nics, as it is known locally, plus other participating churches and local charities, to post requests for specific needs onto their website.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), Parish Ministry, Pastoral Care, Poverty, Stewardship, Urban/City Life and Issues

(Guardian) Robyn Vinter–A Christmas Carol is not cosy, and its angry message should still haunt us

“A Christmas Carol isn’t just a cheery, uplifting tale that we can mimic in various modern ways,” says Mayhew. “It’s a very seriously intended work of moral fiction and, perhaps because we tend to pigeonhole it as a Christmas story, we don’t read just how serious it is.”

The message that Dickens had for Victorian Britain is increasingly pertinent, even though we may use different words to describe similar problems, [Professor Robert] Mayhew believes.

“It’s interesting because we’re living right now with unprecedented levels of homelessness and individuals needing the support of food banks. We have the binary between extreme wealth on one hand and those inured to poverty on the other.” You feel the resonance of A Christmas Carol seems to get stronger every year.”

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Posted in Books, Christmas, England / UK, History, Poverty, Religion & Culture

(ES) Soup kitchen hopes to ‘give humanity’ to homeless people with Christmas meal

A soup kitchen charity hopes to “give humanity” back to homeless people by eating and talking alongside those they have prepared a three-course Christmas meal for.

Streetlytes prepared and served a traditional festive dinner – complete with Christmas presents and a festive film screening – to more than 60 people on Monday evening at St Stephen’s Church in Shepherd’s Bush, west London.

Rudi Richardson founded the charity, which provides free hot meals and basic necessities like clothing and advice, in 2007 after an encounter while he was living on the streets.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), Dieting/Food/Nutrition, Parish Ministry, Poverty

(C of E) Church opens “baby bank” lifeline as new parents struggle to make ends meet

A vital service offering support to new parents who are struggling to afford essentials for their babies is being run by a church.

The North Shields Baby Bank, based at St John’s Church Percy Main, in North Tyneside, has helped more than 60 families since its launch in the summer with items including nappies, wipes, clothing and baby formula.

Revd Lee Cleminson, Vicar of St John’s, said: “We’ve all heard of food banks and know what a valuable lifeline they are for people struggling.

“However, as a result of parents discreetly contacting the vicarage, asking for help, there was a clear need for a similar scheme which supplied basic baby items.

“One mother who came to the church for help explained that she was having to choose between charging her electric meter and buying nappies for her beautiful newborn baby boy.

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Posted in Children, Church of England (CoE), Marriage & Family, Parish Ministry, Poverty, Religion & Culture, Stewardship

(NBC) Brad Paisley and Kimberly Williams-Paisley’s mission to feed Nashville

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Posted in Charities/Non-Profit Organizations, Dieting/Food/Nutrition, Poverty

(WSJ) As Afghanistan Sinks Into Destitution, Some Sell Children to Survive

Desperate to feed her family, Saleha, a housecleaner here in western Afghanistan, has incurred such an insurmountable debt that the only way she sees out is to hand over her 3-year-old daughter, Najiba, to the man who lent her the money.

The debt is $550.

Saleha, a 40-year-old mother of six who goes by one name, earns 70 cents a day cleaning homes in a wealthier neighborhood of Herat. Her much older husband doesn’t have any work.

Such is the starkness of deepening poverty in Afghanistan, a humanitarian crisis that is worsening fast after the Taliban seized power on Aug. 15, prompting the U.S. to freeze $9 billion in Afghan central-bank assets and causing a halt in most foreign aid.

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Posted in Afghanistan, America/U.S.A., Asia, Foreign Relations, Military / Armed Forces, Politics in General, Poverty, War in Afghanistan

(Yorkshire Post) Archbp Stephen Cottrell–Why the voices of the poor need heeding in Challenge Poverty Week

Tackling poverty must be one of our key national focuses. Even before the pandemic, the wealth gap had widened and regional inequality was stark. Household wealth in the South-East is more than twice as high as in the North East, and poverty is holding back millions of families and children.

We must resolve to find ways to redesign our economic systems, to loosen poverty’s grip, so everyone can live a full and dignified life. We cannot and must not have a recovery where the wealthy can speed off down the fast lane, while others are left broken down on the hard shoulder.

The Bible teaches us to love our neighbours, and to treat them as we would like to be treated. In the book of James, we are cautioned against showing hospitality or favouritism to wealthy guests while neglecting poor ones. Too often though, isn’t that what some of our ingrained systems do? People with first-hand experience and insight of poverty are left out of key discussions.

There are alternatives. The Poverty Truth Network is driven by the mantra that “nothing about us without us is for us”. Its approach, putting people together in the same room to pool their wisdom and find solutions to poverty, should not be seen as radical. It should be the norm.

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Posted in Archbishop of York Stephen Cottrell, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Poverty, Religion & Culture

(Guardian) Drought puts 2.1 million Kenyans at risk of starvation

An estimated 2.1 million Kenyans face starvation due to a drought in half the country, which is affecting harvests.

The National Drought Management Authority (NDMA) said people living in 23 counties across the arid north, northeastern and coastal parts of the country will be in “urgent need” of food aid over the next six months, after poor rains between March and May this year.

The crisis has been compounded by Covid-19 and previous poor rains, it said, predicting the situation will get worse by the end of the year, as October to December rains are expected to be below normal levels.

The affected regions are usually the most food-insecure in Kenya due to high levels of poverty.

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Posted in Climate Change, Weather, Dieting/Food/Nutrition, Ecology, Energy, Natural Resources, Kenya, Poverty

(Tufts Univ.) At Present, 3 Billion People in the World Cannot Afford a Healthy Diet

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused price spikes for corn, milk, beans and other commodities, but even before the pandemic about 3 billion people could not afford even the cheapest options for a healthy diet.

Recent analysis of global food price data reveals that as of 2017, the latest available year, around 40% of the world’s population was already forced to consume poor-quality diets by a combination of high food prices and low incomes. When healthy items are unaffordable, it is impossible for people to avoid malnutrition and diet-related diseases like anemia or diabetes.

The remaining 60% of the world’s 7.9 billion people could afford the ingredients for healthy meals. That, of course, does not mean they always eat a healthy diet. Cooking time and difficulty, as well as the advertising and marketing of other foods, can lead many people to choose items that are surprisingly unhealthy.

Distinguishing between affordability and other causes of unhealthy diets is a key step toward better outcomes, made possible by a research project we are leading at Tufts University called Food Prices for Nutrition. The project provides a new view of how agriculture and food distribution relate to human health needs, connecting economics to nutrition in collaboration with the World Bank development data group and the International Food Policy Research Institute.

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Posted in Dieting/Food/Nutrition, Globalization, Poverty

(Local paper Yesterday’s front page) Summerville teen helping community members transition out of homelessness

One of the most obvious priorities with helping someone transition out of homelessness is finding them a place to live.

But what happens when they move into a space with nothing but a crate full of clothes and rent money?

“The difference between having a bed or not really changes your whole day,” said 18-year-old John Michael Stagliano, a lifelong Summerville resident.

Stagliano is also the founder of Home Again, a nonprofit dedicated to supplying furniture and household items to families leaving former conditions behind and moving into new homes.

It all started with Stagliano volunteering at a Summerville homeless shelter where he learned the needs of the residents didn’t end with them simply moving out of the shelter.

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Posted in * South Carolina, Charities/Non-Profit Organizations, Poverty, Teens / Youth

(Bloomberg) Global Hunger Hits Highest in Years as Pandemic Hurts Income

The world faced its worst hunger problem in at least five years in 2020 on the back of the coronavirus crisis, and the outlook remains grim again this year.

Some 155 million people across 55 countries — more than the population of Russia — suffered from issues ranging from a food crisis to famine, according to a report with data from more than a dozen agencies. That’s up 20 million from 2019, with economic shocks overtaking extreme weather as the No. 2 cause.

The worsening situation highlights how the pandemic has exacerbated food inequalities around the world, on top of extreme weather and political conflicts that are stifling access to key staples. Consumers are now also contending with rising food costs as rampant Chinese demand stretches global crop supplies.

“Covid-19 has been exacerbating fragilities,” said Dominique Burgeon, director of emergencies and resilience at the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization. “Its restrictions, for example, on the movement of goods and people, has resulted in widespread income losses, especially for those people who rely on informal work in urban households.”

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Posted in Dieting/Food/Nutrition, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Globalization, Health & Medicine, Politics in General, Poverty

(NYT) ‘I Have No Money for Food’: Among the Young, Hunger Is Rising

Amandine Chéreau hurried from her cramped student apartment in suburban Paris to catch a train for an hourlong trip into the city. Her stomach rumbled with hunger, she said, as she headed for a student-run food bank near the Bastille, where she joined a snaking line with 500 young people waiting for handouts.

Ms. Chéreau, 19, a university student, ran out of savings in September after the pandemic ended the babysitting and restaurant jobs she had relied on. By October, she had resorted to eating one meal a day, and said she had lost 20 pounds.

“I have no money for food,” said Ms. Chéreau, whose father helps pay her tuition and rent, but couldn’t send more after he was laid off from his job of 20 years in August. “It’s frightening,” she added, as students around her reached for vegetables, pasta and milk. “And it’s all happening so fast.”

As the pandemic begins its second year, humanitarian organizations in Europe are warning of an alarming rise in food insecurity among young people, following a steady stream of campus closings, job cuts and layoffs in their families. A growing share are facing hunger and mounting financial and psychological strain, deepening disparities for the most vulnerable populations.

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Posted in Anthropology, Dieting/Food/Nutrition, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, France, Poverty, Teens / Youth, Young Adults

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Vincent de Paul & Louise de Marillac

Most Gracious God, who hast bidden us to do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly before thee; Teach us, like thy servants Vincent and Louise, to see and to serve Christ by feeding the hungry, welcoming the stranger, clothing the naked, and caring for the sick; that we may know him to be the giver of all good things, through the same, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Posted in Church History, France, Poverty, Spirituality/Prayer

Bishop of Durham on the urgent action needed to tackle poverty in the pandemic

Living standards for low income families have worsened since the summer amid the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, according to the findings of a new report by the Church of England Child Poverty Action Group. The Bishop of Durham, Paul Butler, writes about how urgent action is needed to tackle poverty and destitution.

At times like this, when nearly everyone is struggling in some way, it is tempting to turn in on ourselves, as individuals and as a nation. We saw this during the first lockdown when people stock-piled essential supplies and in the recent decision to reduce the UK’s foreign aid budget.

Fortunately, though, the overwhelming response to the pandemic has been to reach out generously to those in need through the spontaneous emergence of local mutual aid schemes across the country, alongside countless everyday acts of kindness and neighbourliness.

The call to ‘remember the poor’ runs through the Bible. The ‘Poverty in the Pandemic’ report that we are publishing today with the Child Poverty Action Group is a modern-day call to remember the poor. Based on a survey of nearly 700 low-income families with children, it offers a stark insight into the experiences of these families, many of whom have seen their lives turned upside down by the pandemic. This year has been a difficult one for many of us, but these challenges are a lot harder when you are short of money.

Sudden loss of earnings, increased living costs, navigating a complex benefits system, falling into debt – these are just some of the challenges facing families during the crisis. Financial worries are adding considerably to the pressures on families, pushing many of them to breaking point….

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Politics in General, Poverty, Religion & Culture

(NYT Magazine) Elderly and Homeless: America’s Next Housing Crisis

Oliver was born at the tail end of the baby boom, when American families celebrated postwar prosperity by having more children than ever before — 72.5 million between 1946 and 1964, or nearly 40 percent of the population of the United States at the time. Many of those children went on to live stable, successful lives. Others teetered on the edge as they aged, working jobs that didn’t come with 401(k) plans or pensions and didn’t pay enough to build a nest egg, always one misfortune away from losing all they had. Amid the pandemic, many of them are now facing homelessness, at an age when they are often too old to be attractive to employers but are not old enough to collect Social Security.

Policymakers had decades to prepare for this momentous demographic shift, but the social safety net has only frayed under a relentless political pressure to slash funding for programs that senior citizens rely on to make ends meet, like subsidized housing, food and health care. “It’s the first thing fiscally conservative people want to cut,” says Wendy Johnson, executive director of Justa Center in Phoenix, the only daytime resource center in the state set up exclusively for older homeless adults. “But this is every single senior to whom we promised that if they paid into the system, we’d take care of them.”

Last year, after analyzing historical records of shelter admissions in three major American cities, a team of researchers led by Dennis P. Culhane, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania and one of the country’s leading authorities on homelessness, published a sobering projection: In the next 10 years, the number of elderly people experiencing homelessness in the United States would nearly triple, as a wave of baby boomers who have historically made up the largest share of the homeless population ages. And that was before a pandemic arrived to stretch what remains of the social safety net to the breaking point.

“If we’re forecasting a flood, where the water will reach up to our heads,” Culhane told me, “it’s already up to our knees, and rising very, very fast.”

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Aging / the Elderly, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Personal Finance, Poverty, Theology

(W Post) U.S. faces shortage of up to 8 billion meals in next 12 months, leading food bank says

Bill Blackmer lost his job in telecommunications on April 18. Blackmer lives with his wife, Mary, and two young daughters in Weymouth, Mass.

“I waited until after dinner, once everything had settled down, to tell her,” he remembers. “Mary didn’t say anything, just grabbed her stomach and took three steps back and sat down.”

He is among tens of millions of Americans who have turned to a local food bank for help after becoming newly food insecure because of the pandemic and its fallout. About 10 percent of American adults, 22.3 million, reported they sometimes or often didn’t have enough to eat within the past week, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s most recent Household Pulse Survey fielded between Aug. 19 and 31. That is up from 18 million before March 13.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Dieting/Food/Nutrition, Economy, Health & Medicine, Personal Finance, Poverty

Archbishop of Canterbury and Bishop of Durham urge Government to expand free school meals to avoid “harrowing” Christmas for thousands

The Archbishop of Canterbury and the Bishop of Durham have urged the Government to extend free school meals as they highlight the “harrowing” number of families who could be destitute by Christmas.

Writing in TES today, Archbishop Justin Welby and Bishop Paul Butler called on the Government to provide free school meals to every child whose family is on universal credit, andexpand holiday provision to all children on free school meals.

According to food bank charity the Trussell Trust, 46,000 food parcels will need to be provided by their network to people in crisis between October and December 2020 – an increase of 61% on last year.

They estimate an additional 670,000 people will be destitute by the end of the year, a prediction Archbishop Justin and Bishop Paul describe as “harrowing”.

The Archbishop and Bishop said it will be “vital for those most disadvantaged” that schools in their communities stay open, but that teachers “can only do so much on their own” and need appropriate funding to help tackle child hunger and poverty.

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Posted in --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Dieting/Food/Nutrition, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Politics in General, Poverty, Religion & Culture

(NBC) Unique Program Helping To Save Vermont Restaurants And Feed The Community

Posted in City Government, Dieting/Food/Nutrition, Health & Medicine, Politics in General, Poverty, The U.S. Government, Urban/City Life and Issues

(AP) Some Religious Leaders to Invoke Frederick Douglass on July 4th

About 150 preachers, rabbis and imams are promising to invoke Black abolitionist Frederick Douglass on July 4th as they call for the U.S. to tackle racism and poverty.

The religious leaders are scheduled this weekend to frame their sermons around “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July” on the 168th anniversary of that speech by Douglass. The former slave gave his speech at an Independence Day celebration on July 5, 1852, in Rochester, New York. The address challenged the Founding Fathers and the hypocrisy of their ideals with the existence of slavery on American soil.

The initiative to remember Douglass is led by the Poor People’s Campaign, a coalition of religious leaders seeking to push the U.S. to address issues of poverty modeled after Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s last crusade.

“(The Declaration of Independence) was written mostly by Thomas Jefferson. Yet he owned hundreds of human beings, and enslaved them,” Rabbi Arthur Waskow plans to tell The Shalom Center in Philadelphia, according to prepared remarks. “The contradiction between his words and his actions has been repeated through all American history.”

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Posted in History, Inter-Faith Relations, Islam, Judaism, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Poverty, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture

(NYT) Vast Federal Aid Has Capped Rise in Poverty, Studies Find

An unprecedented expansion of federal aid has prevented the rise in poverty that experts predicted this year when the coronavirus sent unemployment to the highest level since the Great Depression, two new studies suggest. The assistance could even cause official measures of poverty to fall.

The studies carry important caveats. Many Americans have suffered hunger or other hardships amid long delays in receiving the assistance, and much of the aid is scheduled to expire next month. Millions of people have been excluded from receiving any help, especially undocumented migrants, who often have American children.

Still, the evidence suggests that the programs Congress hastily authorized in March have done much to protect the needy, a finding likely to shape the debate over next steps at a time when 13.3 percent of Americans remain unemployed.

Democrats, who want to continue the expiring aid, can cite the effect of the programs on poverty as a reason to continue them, while Republicans may use it to bolster their doubts about whether more spending is needed or affordable.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Personal Finance, Poverty, The U.S. Government

(CSM) Feeding America during COVID-19: How food pantries are meeting record demand

On a crisp May evening, Wendy Baur had earned a rest by the time dusk fell on a middle school gymnasium that was transformed into a supersized food pantry for the pandemic. Responding to a 630% increase in need since mid-March, she and her team of 55 volunteers had just handed out full grocery bags to about 375 families reeling from this gateway city’s economic collapse. It was time to go home.

But Ms. Baur, who’s directed the First Congregational Church of Revere food pantry in Massachusetts for 18 years, wasn’t relaxing as she leaned on a stack of canned soup cases. She was worrying. If even one volunteer tests positive for COVID-19, she said, the operation might grind to a halt as all contacts would have to quarantine. Just as concerning: the prospect of running out of food.

“Every week it’s a struggle to resupply, to get more food,” says Ms. Baur, who also runs a research lab at Tufts Medical Center. “All of the food pantries are competing for a time slot at the food bank warehouse. Some days I can’t even get a slot. … I get online at midnight when you can pick your slot, but when I get on, they’re all taken. They’re gone within one second.”

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Dieting/Food/Nutrition, Health & Medicine, Poverty

(NYT) Hunger Program’s Slow Start Leaves Millions of Children Waiting

As child hunger soars to levels without modern precedent, an emergency program Congress created two months ago has reached only a small fraction of the 30 million children it was intended to help.

The program, Pandemic-EBT, aims to compensate for the declining reach of school meals by placing their value on electronic cards that families can use in grocery stores. But collecting lunch lists from thousands of school districts, transferring them to often-outdated state computers and issuing specialized cards has proved much harder than envisioned, leaving millions of needy families waiting to buy food.

Congress approved the effort in mid-March as part of the Families First act, its first major coronavirus relief package. By May 15, only about 15 percent of eligible children had received benefits, according to an analysis by The New York Times. Just 12 states had started sending money, and Michigan and Rhode Island alone had finished.

The pace is accelerating, with millions of families expected to receive payments in the coming weeks. But 16 states still lack federal approval to begin the payments and Utah declined to participate, saying it did not have the administrative capacity to distribute the money. Many Southern states with high rates of child hunger have gotten a slow start.

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Posted in Children, Dieting/Food/Nutrition, Poverty