"If there is among you anyone in need, a member of your community in any of your towns within the land that the Lord your God is giving you, do not be hard-hearted or tight-fisted toward your needy neighbor."
As the 2012 Presidential election campaign starts gearing up, it is critical for people of faith to remind voters and candidates that the issues of poverty have become far more acute for many millions of American children and families during these times of anemic economic growth. On September 13, the U.S. Census Bureau announced that the nation's official poverty rate in 2010 rose to 15.1 percent from 14.3 percent in 2009âthe third consecutive increase in the poverty rate. With the jobless rate holding above 9 percent, child nutrition feeding programs set to expire, and Medicaid and education costs rising amid state budget gaps around $140 billion, we must call on lawmakers and candidates to respond to the needs and challenges of the most vulnerable among us. While we understand the need to address the nation's long-term debt made higher during the economic downturn, we firmly believe that efforts at fiscal responsibility cannot forestall the need to provide safety net support and food assistance to the most vulnerable citizens who have lost much during these difficult times.
In our continuing effort to reduce poverty and to address the real human needs of our most vulnerable families, The Episcopal Church joins the Jewish Council for Public Affairs and many other denominations and service organizations for the 2011 Fighting Poverty with Faith Campaign. The annual Fighting Poverty with Faith mobilization focuses on addressing root causes of poverty. We enlist the moral authority and organizing power of the faith community to ensure meeting the needs of those living in poverty is a national priority. This mobilization utilizes the strength of the coordinated faith community to move individuals and communities to action and advocate for clear, immediate policy solutions to address the root causes of poverty.
The 2011 Fighting Poverty Faith campaign, "Working Together to End Hunger," will focus on protecting and strengthening the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as food stamps). The mobilization will unite faith groups to protect SNAP from funding cuts and significant structural changes that would lead to a weakened program and lesser accessibility for those in need. We will educate local communities and elected officials about the importance of food assistance programs such as SNAP, and how SNAP can help both vulnerable communities and local economies. Fighting Poverty with Faith is asking individuals, churches, and local councils alike to join together October 27-November 6 to educate and to advocate around poverty in America.
You can be a part of the campaign to fight poverty with faith. Visit the Fighting Poverty with Faith website and start planning an event as part of this year's campaign.
Resources to Educate and Advocate about Poverty
Please consider organizing or participating in the following events for the mobilization.
- Take the Food Stamp Challenge! Participate in a challenge to live for 1 week on the average food stamp allotment. Leaders and community members across the nation are taking the Food Stamp Challenge in order to help them better understand how the program works on a personal level and to highlight the continued need for and importance of feeding programs to alleviate hunger in the United States.
- Plan a Hunger Banquet. The Fighting Poverty with Faith Oxfam Hunger Banquet program is a unique and memorable event that allows organizers and participants alike to experience firsthand how our decisions affect others in the United States.
- Host a screening of Food Stamped. The documentary film Food Stamped is now available through FPWF for the reduced price of $150. Click here to see the Food Stamped film flyer and FPWF/Food Stamped Purchase instructions.
- As you plan and organize events/actions for Fighting Poverty with Faith in your communities, remember to register the events on the Fighting Poverty with Faith website.
- Fighting Poverty with Faith
- Fighting Poverty with Faith Endorsement Letter
- Center on Budget and Policy Priorities Introduction to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program
- Food Research and Action Center Hunger Data
- National Council of Churches (NCC) Poverty Fact Sheet
- National Council of Churches Poverty Advocacy Toolkit
Episcopal Church Actions and Resources
- Episcopal Jubilee Ministry
- Episcopal Network for Economic Justice How To Action Manual
- Episcopal Church Call to Action Report on Domestic Poverty
- Resolution 2009-A140. 76th General Convention commends the Presiding Bishop for convening a Summit on Domestic Poverty in May 2008, and calls upon the Executive Council to engage continuing efforts in the Church to address this priority concern in the next triennium.
- Resolution 2009-A155. The Episcopal Church recognizes the pressing challenges to those living in poverty and the working poor throughout this nation and call for new and innovative strategies to address issues related to nutrition, employment, childcare, education, healthcare, environment and housing, as well as equal protection under law and cultural affirmations; and establishes a community development initiative in Native People's communities in the new triennium, recognizing that Native People live in some of the poorest counties in the United States experiencing increasing disparities in income, economic security, health and healthcare, and quality of life.
- 1982-A058 The 67th General Convention adopts moral criteria concerning economic decisions and re-industrialization plans and recommends them to government, private corporations, and unions. It asks the Church to become involved in understanding this issue.
- 1982-D059 The 67th General Convention reaffirms the Church's commitment to the eradication of hunger, malnutrition and poverty.
- 1982-D109 The 67th General Convention advocates the creation of employment opportunities on Indian reservations.
- 1985-A080 The 68th General Convention expresses concern for the trend in federal budgeting towards increasing defense spending at the expense of meeting human needs and calls for the reordering of federal budget priorities.
- 1991-D051 The 70th General Convention urges the President and the Congress to adjust welfare practice in order to protect working families from poverty.
- 1997-D082 The 72nd General Convention urges all levels of the Church to promote the "living wage" as the minimum acceptable norm for all working people and to pay Church employees accordingly.
- 2003-A130 The 74th General Convention calls upon the President and Congress to establish a living wage with health benefits as the standard of compensation for all workers.
- 2003-C030 The 74th General Convention urges legislators to support legislation for raising the federal minimum wage.
- 2003-D006 The 74th General Convention endorses the achievement of the UN Millennium Development Goals which support international relief and development.
- 2006-D022 The 75th General Convention establishes the Millennium Development Goals as a mission priority; designates funding for it; and endorses the "ONE Episcopalian" campaign in support of the MDGs.
- 2006-D047 The 75th General Convention supports the right of workers to form a union and to earn living wages. It commits the Church to contract solely with union hotels, or to obtain confirmation that local prevailing "living wages" are paid.
- 2006-B018 The 75th General Convention urge Episcopalians and The Episcopal Church at every level to work to ensure that governments provide adequate funding for programs that combat social and economic conditions that place children at risk or diminish children's ability to achieve their full potential in the world.