Helping with Food Scarcity Locally and Abroad

On any given weekday, a quick inventory of the contents of our food barrel reveals a variety of healthy, non-perishable canned and dry goods: oatmeal, organic tomato sauce and spaghetti noodles, corn muffin mix, and beef stew. All of these meet the needs of Project Take Charge, a program of Decatur Cooperative Ministry (DCM) which gives emergency assistance to individuals and families on the verge of homelessness in much of DeKalb County.

They come to Project Take Charge most often for help in paying essential bills and come away, due to federal program requirements and funding shortages, with a few bags of groceries and personal supplies. In the process, they might be hooked up to a financial management class where they can learn some new ways of tightening their belts and avoiding further budget slippage.They might learn about some community resources such as reliable credit counseling agencies. They will have been met with hospitality and treated with dignity.

We are proud here at UUCA of being a faithful partner with DCM in helping to keep their shelves stocked with appropriate food, food that is preferably low salt, low-sugar, and lower fat, making sure that junk food and expired foodstuff is not passed on to them. That we donate to them what we would feed our own households.

Thanks go to Jack Pierce, who is heading up this food ministry, who checks on the barrel, who delivers (along with helpers) the food to the pantry. Thanks to the RE classrooms and Atlanta Progressive Preschool families and other parishioners who remember to buy extra cans and boxes and then drop them off.

This hands on project provides very real help to people in our own community facing a lack of food at a time when it has been estimated that 49 million Americans report “food insecurity,” the highest number since the government began tracking this 14 years ago. This increase of 13 million Americans is much larger than even the most pessimistic observers of hunger trends had expected, which translates to huge numbers, many of them children, being forced to skip meals, cut portions, and take other measures to get by.

The holiday season tends to remind us of disparities and we respond with increased generosity to calls for donations, cash and otherwise. This month our Give Away the Plate recipients—CARE, the venerable humanitarian relief organization, and The Atlanta Food Bank—give us opportunities to contribute to worthy efforts to help with food scarcity here and abroad.

My hope is that we will continue to work to help alleviate hunger, a major side effect of poverty, in the months to come, long after the decorations come down. It is expected to be an unusually cold and wet winter and the end of this recession with its jobless recovery is not in clear sight.

Faithfully, Marti
Rev. Marti Keller, Minister