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I find it amazing that in our advanced civilization there exits a segment of society today in the United States who thinks the poor should feed themselves and that the government should not take on the responsibility that every parent has to feed their children. I suppose they feel if enough shame is directed toward these parents, they will be motivated to step up to the plate and feed them. Perhaps they feel, if people go without food long enough, hunger pains will inspire them to work two jobs to feed their children. There are also those who do not want to help the poor for any reason, just because they don’t want to. Some say, “By God, I had to pull myself up by my boot straps and if I can do it, any one can.” I’ve often heard the phrase: “No one helped me. Why should I help them?”

My answer is, because we all belong to the human race. We are all a tribe and tribal members help take care of one another… especially the children who have no power or resources. This is how we survive as a society. Many factors enter in as reasons why people go hungry in America. Some times it is because they have been injured on past jobs, and are in severe pain. Often they have to wait years to be evaluated by the Social Security Disability Officials.

At other times, people have mental health issues or problems with alcohol or drug addiction. They may spend too much money on drugs, and the children are left neglected and unfed. It may be years before they are taken away from their parents. In the mean time, they need to survive. Child abuse is often a reason as well as divorce that lowers the income of either parent. Churches try to take care of these issues but they have limited resources as well. I will tell you a story to illustrate this.

Once upon a time a couple lived in the poor part of town. They both were addicted to alcohol. The couple had five children. The father had a good job, but spent most of his time at the beer joint. He did not want to end up in this marriage, nor did he want these children and so he neglected them. His wife had severe depression and was not physically or mentally present for the children. Most of the time, the children had to fend for themselves and food was scarce. The mother and children attended church every week.

Because food was scarce, the kids ate grass, peaches that grew in the backyard, walnuts that fell from a tree near the side of the house, and mulberries when they were in season. Sometimes, peanut butter was available and when it was, they made sandwiches. They carried cold navy beans to school in a jar for lunch. They were finally put in the free lunch program and the children had a hot meal five days a week while school was in session. A few of the children would steal food  from the grocery store as a last resort. This went on for ten years.

If it wasn’t for others stepping in and providing food and a safe place to stay, they could have been hungry for another ten years. Because I was a child in this family, this topic hits close to home. I have always been grateful for the school lunches, and the food found in the outdoors. Each of us has a moral obligation to help our neighbor when we can, and when we can’t, other social agencies need to step in.

Yu/stan/kema

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