Whether those who are hungry now will be filled or satisfied in another life either remains to be seen or simply is a given from a faith-based perspective.
Either way, hunger pains don’t go away on a day-to-day basis.
And, according to a recent report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the number of people facing food insecurity is on the rise. Kansas is among the top-tier states with 15.9 percent of its 1.2 million households not having enough food at some point during the three-year reporting period that ended in 2014.
That’s the bad news.
The worse news comes from multiple fronts: That number is rising, it’s worse for families with children, state assistance for food has been cut dramatically in Kansas, and food pantries are receiving fewer donations.
USDA defines a household as being food insecure if it either is “uncertain of having, or unable to acquire, enough food to meet the needs of all their members because they had insufficient money or other resources for food.” These households get divided into low food security, which means they were able to use assistance programs or community pantries to obtain enough food, and very low food security, which means food intake was reduced or eating patterns were disrupted.
In northwest Kansas, the number of residents facing food insecurity is unacceptably high. There are 4,110 in Ellis County alone. Thomas County has 1,030; Russell County has 990, and Sherman County has 900. The raw numbers go down considerably in the less-populous counties — but the percentage of hungry adults and children remains the same.
It is time for the remaining 84.1 percent to make a difference. We acknowledge and appreciate the compassion and generosity these households already demonstrate on a regular basis. Not one past act of kindness is being discounted or taken for granted.
But we’re asking you to open your hearts and your wallets at a time of grave need.
For these are children already being fed breakfast and lunch at school through federal programs who are going to bed without supper. These are adults showing up for job interviews or going to work for less-than-living wages with stomachs growling. These are friends and neighbors striving to retain dignity while doing what is necessary to clothe, shelter and feed their families.
They could use a helping hand. Will you raise yours? There might be other-world rewards for doing so, but there most assuredly will be real-life effects as a result of your generosity.
Let us reduce these abhorrent food-insecurity figures together.
Editorial by Patrick Lowry