Tomorrow is Christmas, when those of us who are Christians, or nominally so, celebrate the birth of Jesus. It’s considered a season of giving, and many of us will be together with family and friends, with gifts exchanged and plenty of food. For myself, I have tried to instill in my family members the idea that I personally do not want any gifts. Really, it’s not that I don’t appreciate the thought, but I have everything I need, and I’m grateful for that. As a matter or practicality, I don’t have a lot of space available to store things in my apartment, and a gift ends up being one more thing I have to find a spot for. I tell them if they want to do something, just donate to a charity whatever they would have spent on my gift, and I’ll be happy.
Which brings me to the subject. Earlier this month, President Obama signed the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, which raises nutritional standards for school lunches and increases school lunch program funding by $4.5 billion over the next 10 years, and expands access to school lunch program for at least 115,000 students. Which is an important piece of legislation, one which drew bi-partisan praise. No one likes the thought of children going hungry, and we want them to have a healthy diet. But at the same time this act was signed, and as much as it will do, we need to remember that this only helps children when they’re in school.
It’s when they are not in school, on weekends and holiday breaks, that they are not helped. Hunger is a real problem at this time.
Winter break is anything but a wonderland for children in many of the nation’s estimated 44 million food insecure families, who rely on school lunch for sustenance.
Nearly 16 percent of US households with children were food insecure during 2009, according to the most recently published United States Department of Agriculture figures, meaning that they did not have consistent access to adequate food for active, healthy lives for all household members.
For many of these children, the holidays are not a happy break, it means losing meals, a time they’re going to go hungry. In an editorial over on Huffington Post, Vicki Escarra write:
And during the holidays, we are more keenly aware of the inequity of bounty that life bestows: the homeless man crossing the street with dozens of holiday shoppers; a woman, in a grocery store where others are buying holiday specialties, who has to put back chicken or milk because each is a luxury that she cannot afford.
Indeed. There are people going hungry in this country, even in the midst of plenty. That is a sad reality. Yes, government can – and does – help somewhat, but there is still the need for private organizations to fill the gap. No one likes to see a child go hungry, and particularly at this time of year. Which is why I’m calling attention to two organizations on my “Charities” list: Feeding America and Share Our Strength. Both are outstanding organizations that help supply food banks and feed hungry children in this country. In this time of giving, we should remember those who are less fortunate, and take the time to help.
34 Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: 35 for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; 36 I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’
37 “Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? 38 When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? 39 Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ 40 And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’
I have everything I need, but I never forget that there are others who are struggling. Want to get me something for Christmas? Help someone who needs it.