ELCA members contact Congress in support of anti-hunger programs

10/24/2013 12:00:00 AM

     CHICAGO (ELCA) -- In an effort to ensure that families across the
United States receive adequate access to food, some members of the
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) are asking members of
Congress to oppose the proposed cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition
Assistance Program or SNAP.
     The proposed changes to the SNAP program would cut or eliminate
benefits for millions of people at a time when high unemployment and
underemployment rates mean that families struggle to put food on the
table, according to an October ELCA advocacy alert.
     “Part of what we do through ELCA World Hunger is to advocate for
adequate and full funding of essential programs like SNAP, because we
know we can and must engage the issue in multiple ways,” said Mikka
McCracken, program director for ELCA World Hunger constituent engagement.
     Food pantries and meal programs of ELCA congregations have been
seeing and will continue to experience an increase in food supply needs,
said McCracken. She said food provided by U.S. charities amounts to only
about 6 percent of the food distributed by federal food programs, such as
SNAP and school meals.
     Grace Lutheran Church, an ELCA congregation in Glen Ellyn, Ill.,
houses a food pantry supported by 16 local churches. Susan Papierski,
executive director of the food pantry, said that the assistance provided
for people at the pantry is not enough. The pantry doesn’t “completely
feed them” and any further cuts to benefits would have a greater,
negative impact on these individuals and families, she said.
     “They still have bills to pay -- rent, electricity, child care --
and their SNAP benefits have been a supplement to that. Where will they
go? What will they do? There will be more and more demand on food
pantries to help [people] out,” said Papierski.
     In the past two years, there has been a dramatic increase in the
number of people who visit the food pantry, which serves about 1,200
people a month, said the Rev. Richard Likeness, pastor of Grace. The
situation “is dire and definitely a concern.”
     The proposed cuts to SNAP would not only place extra stress on
individuals and families but to Lutheran social ministry organizations.
     “Lutheran Services in America’s 300-plus members are a part of
communities across the country, and many of them serve families and
individuals that rely on SNAP and similar programs,” said Charlotte
Haberaecker, president and CEO of Lutheran Services in America.
     “The consequences of cuts could be far-reaching, and our concern is
that this would put additional strain on the most vulnerable people and
on health and human services organizations working in the communities
that are already facing enormous changes and challenges,” she said.
     “We work with the poorest of the poor -- people who are already food
insecure. Cutting SNAP will result in children going to bed hungry. It's
as simple as that,” said Sam Sipes, president and chief executive officer
of Lutheran Social Services Florida -- an affiliate agency of the ELCA.
     “We know that we cannot end hunger alone, nor can we feed every
person who is hungry. But in talking with hunger leaders and volunteers,
we are doing everything we can through our [congregations] and ministries
in communities. It’s time our elected officials do the same and do their
part,” said McCracken.
     More information about ELCA World Hunger can be found at
http://www.ELCA.org/hunger. The ELCA advocacy alert that encourages ELCA
members to support SNAP was published Oct. 16 in support of World Food
Day. The alert is available at http://www.capwiz.com/elca/issues/alert/?alertid=62968346.
About the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America:
The ELCA is one of the largest Christian denominations in the United
States, with about 4 million members in nearly 10,000 congregations
across the 50 states and in the Caribbean region. Known as the church
of “God's work. Our hands,” the ELCA emphasizes the saving grace of God
through faith in Jesus Christ, unity among Christians and service in the
world. The ELCA's roots are in the writings of the German church
reformer, Martin Luther.

For information contact:
Candice Hill Buchbinder
773-380-2877 or Candice.HillBuchbinder@ELCA.org
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/Lutherans
Living Lutheran: http://www.livinglutheran.com


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