A Crisis of Caring: Opportunities to Help
Several weeks ago, I was asked to participate in a lunch-n-learn at the Lincoln Food Bank. Just prior to the lunch, Alynn Sampson, BackPack Coordinator, took us on a brief tour of the facility. During that tour, she spoke with pride of the work they are doing within the community, and with great sadness about the financial cuts they have taken, and are anticipating. Because of those financial cuts, there are several programs that will be reduced or cut all together.
Many of you will attribute these financial cuts to the economy, and our need to balance the budget. I get that. But, these are symptoms of a greater issue we are facing in this country – a crisis of caring. Once I began to recognize that caring is the core issue, I made it one of my goals for 2012 to step into that crisis by doing what I can to let people know we do care, and to present all of you with opportunities for you to step into the solution for this overwhelming crisis of the heart we are in. So, I am asking you to join me in this opportunity to make a difference to thousands of people in our local area by volunteering, donating food or money, and/or taking the opportunity to ask others to care as well.
Let me present you with some of the information we were given about the wonderful work the Lincoln Food Bank is doing here in Southeast Nebraska. The Food Bank serves 16 counties throughout Southeast Nebraska. There are about 60 different non-profit agencies that receive food from the Food Bank including shelters, soup kitchens, pantries, emergency service providers and rehabilitation centers.
On our tour, we heard about the BackPack program I was familiar with through a funding drive within my church community. This program provides a backpack of food for a weekend for families in need. The backpacks are delivered to local schools and sent home each Friday with a child within a qualified family. Currently, over 3000 backpacks are packed by volunteers and delivered each week in the Lincoln area.
Where does all this food come from? The Food Bank receives food from retailers, wholesalers, food drives, government food and some purchasing of product. They serve as a distribution center and will distribute approximately 8 million pounds of food this year.
There are several programs utilized by the Lincoln Food Bank that are continually up for cuts, and are being targeted by the current budget cut conversations:
TFAP commodities (Emergency Food Assistance Program) is particularly important to the Lincoln Food Bank and many other food banks across the country. This program provides nutritious foods to low income families and individuals, as well as providing income to farmers and ranchers through commodity purchasing. While the Secretary of Agriculture has the ability to provide “bonus” shipments of food to feed the hungry, there have been none in 2011 for the Lincoln Food Bank, even while the demand for emergency food is increasing.
SNAP (food stamps) budget cuts are being proposed by the Agriculture Committee to the tune of $4 billion over a ten year time frame.
CSFP (Commodity Supplemental Food Program) provides over a thousand food filled bags per month to our local senior citizens.
There are over 200 Food Banks all over the United States, and I’m sure they exist in other areas of the world, as well. On an individual basis, we are overwhelmed at the idea of giving $4 billion dollars over a ten year time frame. But we can give $40, $400, or $4000 depending upon our own financial abilities. Imagine – $4 dollars a year. What might you have to give up to send $4.00 to the Food Bank? Two cups of coffee? Walk to work for a week to save a gallon of gas? Eat hamburger for dinner instead of a steak? Multiply that by 10 and give $40 for the year. If you just don’t have the money – volunteer your time, your communication skills, or whatever strength you bring to the table. Let’s show people we care – and by doing our part, create the ripple effect that is needed to eliminate this crisis of caring – and thereby eliminating the cultural and financial crisis we are facing across the world.
Here is the address and telephone number:Food Bank of Lincoln 4840 Doris Bair Cir #A Lincoln, NE 68504-1465 (402) 466-8170
If you don’t live in the Lincoln, Nebraska, area – just sign on to your favorite search engine, and request the address for the nearest Food Bank. I know they would appreciate your help.
I would love to hear about your experience in caring: How did it feel? What ripple effect did you see take place?
Today, I choose to care for my neighbor as I would like them to care for me.
Best regards to each of you, always