ESSAY

Week 1

“Faces of Hunger” by Jack Rogers

 Hunger has many faces. Eight million faces of Yemenis live daily with hunger and thousands have already starved as war rages around them. The cruel face of hunger haunts the world over and even in the land in the midst of plenty. Millions of children go hungry each day and the elderly too often have to choose whether to eat or pay rent and utilities or meet other financial obligations.

 Our children and elderly must depend on programs, both public and private to supply even the meagerest level of nutritional support. School meals including breakfasts, lunches, and dinners too often mean the difference between enough to thrive or going to bed hungry. Food banks operated by not-for-profits and churches, community gardens, neighbors, family, and SNAP (food stamps) with its increasingly tightening governmental restrictions all mean the difference between hunger and food of the table.

 Prisoners seldom truly hunger for food but for every prisoner there is a family that too often does duffer the face of hunger as they subsist on meager incomes, food banks, and government subsidies that rarely meet the needs.

 My own 74-year-old wife ekes out a living on her $700 a month social security check, and she depends on the food bank, food stamps, and help from other family. The state recently reassessed the amount seniors receive and reduces her food stamps from $125 to $117. When I talk with her, she is excited when the food bank has given her some fresh fruit, a luxury she can rarely afford.

 I have known an elderly inmate who chose to take his own life so that his wife and family could receive his social security survivor’s benefits and be able to eat and not lose their house. The face of hunger is cruel.

 As Unitarian-Universalists we have many faith traditions but inherent in each of them is the importance of charity and helping the poor, the children, the elderly, the widowed, the least among us. There is unity among all to meet the faces of poverty and hunger and for each of us to do what we can as a denomination, a congregation, a family, and as individuals.

 The faces of hunger are all around us. What will you do today when you meet that face on a child, a teen, on an adult, or on an elderly man or woman? What are you called to do?