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The Resistance Prays

November 30, 2018
By Rev. Erin Spengeman Hutchison

Today's Top Story
Deadlocked for months, lawmakers announced on Thursday that they have finally reached an agreement allowing the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill—a major five year agriculture plan detailing how billions of dollars will be used for conservation, aid to farmers, research, and most notably, food aid through the SNAP program, which covers 80% of the bill’s spending.
Scripture 
Jesus told his disciples about the end times: “The king will place the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. Then the king will say to those on his right, “My father has blessed you! Come and receive the kingdom that was prepared for you before the world was created. When I was hungry, you gave me something to eat, and when I was thirsty, you gave me something to drink. When I was a stranger, you welcomed me, and when I was naked, you gave me clothes to wear. When I was sick, you took care of me, and when I was in jail, you visited me.” Then the righteous will ask, “What are you talking about? When did we give you something to eat or drink? When did we welcome you as a stranger or give you clothes to wear or visit you while you were sick or in jail?” The king will answer, “Whenever you did it for any of my people, no matter how unimportant they seemed, you did it for me.” -- Matthew 25:33-40
We cannot withhold food
  • Conservative lawmakers, fueled by Trump, have been leveraging for stricter work requirements for recipients of the SNAP program. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), is the largest hunger safety net program in the United States, currently providing nearly 43 million Americans with food assistance. SNAP already requires that adult recipients aged 18-59 who are able-bodied and without dependents to work at least part-time or enter job training to qualify.
  • Many Republican lawmakers and Trump, however, have been pushing for new work requirements for older recipients and for parents with children age 6 and older. Another Republican proposal would have cut food benefits for 800,000-1.1 million households. 
  • Of course, having a job can give a person dignity and purpose—along with a vital income—but we cannot use gainful employment as a bargaining tool to levy for budget cuts at the risk of our most vulnerable citizens! We cannot withhold food, a most basic human need, from hungry people until they meet a rigid series of requirements. Additional work requirements upon seniors or families with small children can only serve to add unnecessary stress to already vulnerable people.
  • How can a person search for employment, go to job interviews, focus on job training, and deal with the demands of child-rearing if they are hungry? Additionally, we must remember that most 18-year olds are still in high school—no high school student should have to work for food.
  • And the Farm Bill? News outlets are now reporting that these stringent and cruel additions to SNAP have been defeated in order to pass the stalled Farm Bill. And so we must certainly rejoice when Trumpism is defeated!—and as far as we can tell, such unjust and cruel additions to the SNAP seem to have been scrapped in the final bill. That is something to celebrate and thank God for!
  • Although not as explosive a storyline as the Russia investigation, we who ache to see the Justice of God embodied in our world must remain vigilant to the continued, quieter storylines of what our lawmakers are doing on behalf of—or against—such large swaths of Americans, especially “the least of these.”
Act
  • Learn more about SNAP and its crucial benefits to low-income Americans.
  • Did you know that 6.5 million children lived in food-insecure households in 2017? Read more about food security in this USDA report.
  • Give food to your local food bank or church/faith community food pantry.
  • Contact your legislators and tell them you are glad these stricter work requirements and budget cuts to SNAP were not included in the final Farm Bill. 
Pray
Oh God, who populated the earth with plentiful foods so that your people will be nourished, may we willingly and gladly join together to share the abundance of food with all who hunger. Amen. 
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