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6450 North West 77th CT Miami Florida 33166 Email: fp@spiritist.com

 Why are we here?  The Food Stamp Challenge  Poverty, hunger..... And the story of our lives.  God Watches over us  Chico Xavier and his dedication to the poor.  Understanding Hunger and Poverty in the U.S.

May 2011

BEZERRA DE MENEZES FOOD PANTRY REPORT

Image: Salvatore Vuono / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Understanding Poverty and Hunger in the U.S.


Bezerra de Menezes Food Pantry is a social program managed by the Bezerra de Menezes Kardecian Spiritist Center a 501(c)(3) educational and charitable organization, located in Miami Fl. Through its Social Assistance Department. BM Food Pantry was founded in February 2009 to provide supplemental food to families and individuals in need, in the Miami Dade County area. Our services and products are free of charge. We are a distribution agency for the TEFAP program of the U.S.D.A. and also rely on private donations to fund this program.

Social Assistance Dept of BM Kardecian Spiritist Assc. Luis Salazar – Director Members: Rita Salgado, Felix Abreu, Marlene Alencar, Luiz Cesar Carvalho. BM Food Pantry Report: Gilberto Rustice, Luis Salazar BM Food Pantry Report is a digital periodical distributed FREE to Donors, Government agencies, Volunteers and General Public. The main objective of this publication is to inform about the operation of the Bezerra de Menezes Food Pantry and to provide news and opinions on Poverty and Hunger advocacy. You can send your comments fp@spiritist.com .

WHY ARE WE HERE? Around 400 families come to Bezerra de Menezes Food Pantry every month. They are low income families, many of which with at least one member working full time. Sixty percent of these households have members under the age of 17, and almost 30% are retired individuals. All of these people are motivated by a common goal: to receive supplemental food to put in their tables. TEFAP – The Emergency Food Assistance Program administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, provide to BM Food Pantry about 40% of the food products needed to help our population (400 families/month). The balance must be either purchased or obtained from other sources. Goya Foods, Brex America, F. Garcia Wholesale, Jimmy Food Distribution, Tropical Supermarket and Panera Bread are some of the donors that have provided BM Food Pantry with food products, some for free, others at low cost. Many individuals contribute their time and/or money to make all of this possible. It is a great opportunity to practice Jesus’s teachings and volunteer work. Each client that comes to the door give us a chance to show that we understand the words “Love your neighbor”, or...... that we need to further develop such a virtue.

BM Food Pantry continues to try and improve every time. The aim is to provide a caring and courteous service in a familiarlike enviroment. We hope to continue doing the Lord’s job by being part of this social safety net. Our spiritual mentor, Dr. Bezerra de Menezes was called the “Doctor of the Poor” because he always had an open heart for those in need. Still today, when we elevate our prayers to him, we receive the warm comfort of his presence and love, giving us the strength to continue.

Dr. Bezerra de Menezes


The Food Stamp Challenge of David Davenport

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just feeding the hunger line. Cutting funding for programs such as SNAP, WIC, and Summer Food Service is tantamount to stopping a blood transfusion to an injured person because nobody is treating the wound. The idea that the only way the patient will recover (or be inspired to recover) is to make the situation worse is short sighted and immoral.

ver done the Food Stamp Challenge? Limit your budget to

$25 a week–what a single SNAP (formerly food stamps) recipient is allocated. I did it for a week in 2009, and reported on it here. I’m a cook and have time to cook. I was a professional musician early in life, and learned to live sparsely. So I had a few tools in my toolbox. But I was still really glad to reach the end of the one week to which I committed. David Davenport, executive director of The Second Harvest Community Food Bank in St. Joseph, Missouri, is nearing the completion of the second month-long commitment he’s made to the challenge. David’s a great American, and an exemplary hunger fighter, who truly walks the talk. I was able to ask him a few questions about his experience with the challenge this time. (Q) Why are you doing the challenge now? (A) I will throw everything I can muster at the challenge of hunger and food insecurity in the communities that make up our Missouri and Kansas service territory. To me the obvious starting place is investing time and effort to better understand the challenges our clients face on a daily basis. (Q) Any notable differences and/or similarities in doing it for the second time from the first? Have recent rises in food costs been noticeable? (A) Interestingly the last time I took on a month long Food Stamp Challenge was during the summer of 2008. Gas prices had jumped to over $4/gallon and food prices followed. The biggest difference is my health has improved dramatically and I have more flexibility in my diet. Last time around I lost so much weight my doctors demanded I stop the process early. That conclusion was very frustrating and emotional. (Q) I’m thinking anyone who’s done this—especially for a month—can probably speak credibly to the assertion by some who’ve been advocates of SNAP funding cuts that the program promotes a “cycle of dependency.” What would you say to these and the other arguments being used to defend proposed cuts in SNAP funding? (A) I have a sign in my office that reads “When I feed the poor they call me a saint, When I ask why the poor are hungry they call me a communist” (Dom Helder Camera) – nutrition assistance programs don’t create dependency – communities, organizations and local leaders that fail to empower systems that empower people create dependency by never offering a way up for those in need. Advocates for a hunger-free nation, state or community do a disservice if they never embrace or demand solutions beyond

(Q) You’ve made no secret of the fact you’re an organ transplant recipient. I’m assuming you have to be particularly careful about nutrition. How does this kind of restricted budget impact someone with special nutritional needs? (A) My dietary restrictions are similar to a diabetic or person with mild heart disease. According to the Hunger in America 2010 Study, nearly 40% of the households served by Second Harvest Community Food Bank have one or more members in poor health. My health challenges provide me an opportunity to explore the challenges surrounding eating a healthy diet on a limited budget. I am thankful for the suggestions and advice provided by the many folks that have followed me. Some of the best recipes have come directly from our clients including an amazing bean soup. (Q) You’ve managed to create a tremendous amount of awareness in a community to which you’re relatively new. Any advice to those working in hunger relief around the country who might want to undergo the Food Stamp Challenge to create awareness in their own communities? (A) Yes, be authentic and go right after the issue full speed knowing that what is missing in the current debate around domestic hunger is “moral imagination” or the ability to feel the fear, frustration and pain felt by children, families and seniors in our local communities. Invest the time to sit in line on a freezing cold day for hours to receive a small bag of food that may last two days and on the bus ride home try and figure out a way to make it last a week. Bring those around you into that experience. Demand people follow your lead and embrace the core belief that Hunger is Unacceptable and act on that belief as an advocate, donor and/or volunteer. Finally, reach out and connect with others – if you care to bring about change there are many out there that share your passion. Ed Nicholson http://www.tysonhungerrelief.com/2011/04/daviddavenport-food-stamp-challenge-champion/


Poverty, hunger…. and the story of our lives.

range of physical health problems (such as asthma, anemia, and pneumonia, plus those derived from adoption of risky behaviors like smoking, early sexual activity, substance abuse, and others)

As Dr. Maureen Black, director of the Interdisciplinary Growth and Nutrition Clinic at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, says: “It’s humbling, but there’s nothing we can do as health-care providers that would ever be as powerful as getting people access to housing and healthy, nutritious food” (Monitor, Sept 2010, Vol. 41). For a few decades now, Dr. Black has worked with government agencies to build national and international coalitions to “investigate the factors behind malnutrition and poor child development”. In the process of gathering some specific data for this article, I got puzzled with a few things: the facts are not enough to minimize the impact of the “multiple realities” we all live under; the “power of now” type of thought we are encouraged to follow seems to focus on effects, and not enough on causes; and, in this planet of trials and expiations, there is much more of it then there seems to be. You’re probably confused, but you won’t be after I present the details behind the above issues that puzzled my mind.

“Poverty impacts children within their various contexts at home, in school, and in their neighborhoods and communities”. Let’s start by looking at some data. The national poverty rate in this country reached 13.2% in 2008 (of which, almost one-fourth was represented by Hispanic groups). If we consider only children, the child poverty rate was up to 19% in the same year. What about hunger? Well, in 2007, over 36 million Americans, including 12 million children, lived in food insecure households. That means that over 11% of all households were food insecure, meaning that at some point in the year the family could not have, or had limited access to adequate food. In nine of the 50 States in this country, over 20% of children lived in food insecure households in 2007. The impact of poverty and hunger on children biosocial-psychological development is incredibly devastating. As per the American Psychological Association, “poverty impacts children within their various contexts at home, in school, and in their neighborhoods and communities”. To cite some of the implications of poverty, researches point to the link between poverty and poor academic achievement, higher risks of behavioral and emotional problems (for example, impulsiveness, aggression, attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder, conduct disorder, anxiety, depression, low self-esteem), and increased risk of a wider

. Image: koratmember / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Did you know that the first three years of a child is the period of rapid brain development? Here is the issue: shortfalls of energy, protein, and nutrients in this critical period can lead to deficits in cognitive, social, and emotional development. These problems affect 5-10% of American children under age of three. All these and other statistics are very scary, and I don’t want to highlight them more than I need to catch your attention to issues like poverty, hunger, and food insecurity. Maybe by now we can talk about one the issues I previously mentioned: the facts and the multiple realities. We do have people like Dr. Black that can’t stop trying to help improve the poverty and hunger situation, but we still can’t say “feeding our neighbor” is high enough in the agenda of people in general. And this leads to the second issue that I mentioned before: the focus on the effects and not enough on the causes. The consequences of poverty- and hunger-related issues to the well-being of humanity do not seem to be getting enough attention. I guess one could argue that the impact of those issues get more public attention than their causes (for example, high criminality rates in many parts of the world). So, can we help? Yes, and I believe we will. I believe time is approaching for us to try to understand Jesus’ intent when he multiplied the bread to feed all of those with hunger, and then follow his example. We, at Bezerra, are privileged people, as we are a part of a community that already found the indescribable rewards that come from the “feed your neighbor” practice (or help those that do that). While we want to show our gratitude to those that help making our FOOD PANTRY the hope of so many food-insecure families, we pray to God to protect the good souls that have come to understand the need to show solidarity to those that depend on the Food Pantry to


secure some food. But the continued support of all is critical, as worry is the food. Prices keep going up and our disability the demand from the poor has had a tendency to grow. As Dr. checks stay the same. I pay $494 for rent, groceries, however, Black said: “Children’s young bodies and brains cannot wait we don’t have enough of it.” for an economic recovery”. Most of the clients of BM Food Pantry are employed or Gilberto Rustice receiving some kind of government assistance, but not enough to make ends meet. As time goes by and some of them keep References coming we realize that it is not just the food, it is the time they spend around us; it is the need for sharing their worries and Effects of Poverty, Hunger, and Homelessness on Children and Youth, American Psychological Association. Retrieved from most importantly, that they feel welcome and protected in our http://www.apa.org/pi/families/poverty.aspex# Center. Children, Youth, and Families & Socioeconomic Status, American Psychological Association. Retrieved from http://www.apa.org/pi/ses/resources/publications/fact-sheet-references.aspex.

God watches over us How’s your son?” It is the first thing that we hear when

approached by this familiar face. Still playing baseball?” He asks without letting me answer his first question. You can tell by the way he handles himself that he is comfortable around us, that he feels that he is in a familiar place. Antonio Cantillo, started visiting the Bezerra de Menezes Food Pantry in 2009, he comes with his wife, Maurenn, to pick-up “The help that we get from Bezerra de Menezes is really some food to take home. Every month , sometimes more often, important to us.” says Antonio. “I would say to the people who the Cantillo family comes looking for some relief in their support the BM Food Pantry, we have survived thanks to you. budget, trying to get by with a fixed income. I’m sure God will compensate you as He’s watching over us.” Antonio migrated from Cuba to the U.S. in 1980 and has says Antonio with a smile. worked for 19 years as an electronics technician and later as a driver for a rental car company. After all these years, Antonio and Maurenn have survived multiple difficulties. Maurenn was born in the U.S. with a learning disability that has kept her away from reading and writing till this day. She speaks English and Spanish while Antonio is not fluent in English. Living in Hialeah FL in an apartment with their 18 year old son, Anthony, who by the age of 4 had already been expelled from three day care centers. Like his mom, Anthony suffers from AD/HD. He’s currently attending the 10th grade of senior high school.

Many families like the Cantillos rely on Bezerra de Menezes Food Pantry, to receive some extra food to put on their tables, every month, sometimes every two weeks. They come showing their gratitude and hiding their pain and troubles, with a smile on their face, accept whatever is available to them that week. Sometimes after most of the food has been distributed, and only very little products are left, we have no alternative but to invite the remaining clients to leave and come back next week for a full box of products, at that time we quite frequently hear people say”whatever can I get today is great, even if it is just a few cans of beans or fruits, as that will be more than what I have at home.”

We asked Antonio about his situation and he said “It is very bad; I don’t know what we are going to do. My son is still As Antonio said, we are sure God is watching over us and He getting his medicines through the Florida Kid Care program but will provide the products and quantities needed, as long as we he will lose it soon. Last year he got his disability application keep being available to work for Him. denied; I had to hire a lawyer to help us with the case. My main


Ella contestó:

ESPAÑOL

MEDIUM CHICO XAVIER Y LOS POBRES

- Tú no te acuerdas ahora de mí, todavía yo soy Isabel de Aragón.

Yo no conocía señora alguna que tuviese este nombre y extrañé lo que ella decía, entre tanto una fuerza interior me contenía y callé sin hacer cualquier comentario, acerca de mi ignorancia. Del libro Chico Xavier e Isabel, la Reina Pero el diálogo estaba iniciado e indagué: Santa de Portugal, obra publicada por la editora Madras. - Señora, soy pobre y nada tengo para dar. ¿Qué auxilio podré prestar a los más pobres de que yo mismo? El libro trae un resumen biográfico de Chico Xavier y de la reina Isabel de Ella dijo: - Tú me auxiliaras a repartir los panes con los Aragón, considerada la Reina Santa de necesitados. Portugal. Chico registró la presencia de ella en los primeros momentos de su tarea Clamé con pesar: - Señora, casi siempre no tengo pan para mí. mediumnica, ocasión en que traía consigo ¿Cómo podré repartir panes con otros?... fuerte influencia de su formación católica. Isabel de Aragón lo incentivó a la práctica de la caridad y le dijo que en el futuro él La dama sonrió y me esclareció: podría ayudar innúmeras instituciones con los recursos de las publicaciones literarias, hecho que realmente se dio con la - Llegará el tiempo en que tú dispondrás de recursos. Tú vas a donación de los derechos de autorías de todas sus obras escribir para nuestras gentes peninsulares y, trabajando por mediumnicas. Jesús, no podrás recibir ventaja material alguna por las páginas que tú producirás, pero vamos a providenciar para que los El propio médium ya había relatado, anteriormente, como inició Mensajeros del Bien te traigan recursos para iniciar la tarea. sus lides en el campo asistencial, como podemos leer en el libro Confiemos en la Bondad del Señor.” Chico Xavier – Mandato de Amor, publicado por la Unión Espirita Mineira. El relato arriba es bien significativo por elucidar un aspecto importantísimo de la obra de Chico Xavier, que fue su He aquí como Chico Xavier se refirió a su primer encuentro con reconocida dedicación a los más pobres. la reina Isabel de Aragón, ocurrido en 1927: http://www.oconsolador.com.br/ano5/209/editorial_espanhol.ht “Todo seguía en orden, cuando en la noche de 10 de Julio ml referido, dos días después de haber recibido el primer mensaje, cuando yo hacía las oraciones de la noche, vi mi habitación pobre alumbrarse, de repente. Las paredes reflejaban la luz de un plateado lila. Yo estaba de rodillas, de acuerdo con mis hábitos católicos, y descerré los ojos, intentando ver lo que se pasaba. Vi, entonces, cerca de mi una señora de admirable presencia, que irradiaba la luz que se difundía por la habitación. Intenté levantarme para demostrarle respeto y cortesía, pero no conseguí permanecer de pie y doblé, involuntariamente, las rodillas delante de ella. La dama iluminada miró la imagen de Nuestra Señora del Pilar que yo mantenía en mi habitación y, en seguida, habló en castellano que yo comprendí, como sabiendo que yo ignoraba el idioma, en que ella fácilmente se expresaba: - Francisco – me dijo pausadamente – en nombre de Nuestro Señor Jesús Cristo, vengo solicitar su auxilio a favor de los pobres, nuestros hermanos.

ISABEL DE ARAGON Medium-Mediumnidad: Mediumnidad es el conjunto de facultades que

La emoción me poseía el alma toda, pero pude preguntarle, a permiten al ser humano, comunicarse con el mundo espiritual. Es inherente al hombre y por tanto no es privilegio exclusivo de nadie. pesar de las lágrimas que me cubrían el rostro: - Señora, ¿Quién sois vosotros?


PORTUGUES

Chico Xavier e sua dedicação aos mais pobres.

– Francisco – disse-me pausadamente – em nome de Nosso Senhor Jesus Cristo, venho solicitar o seu auxílio em favor dos pobres, nossos irmãos. A emoção me possuía a alma toda, mas pude perguntarlhe, embora as lágrimas que me cobriam o rosto:

Do livro Chico Xavier e Isabel, a – Senhora, quem sois vós? Rainha Santa de Portugal, obra publicada pela editora Madras. Ela me respondeu:

O livro traz um resumo biográfico de Chico Xavier e da rainha Isabel de Aragão, considerada a Rainha Santa de Portugal. Chico registrou a presença dela nos primeiros momentos de sua tarefa mediúnica, ocasião em que trazia consigo forte influência de sua formação católica. Isabel de Aragão o incentivou à prática da caridade e disse-lhe que no futuro ele poderia ajudar inúmeras instituições com os recursos das publicações literárias, fato que realmente se deu com a doação dos direitos autorais de todas as suas obras mediúnicas.

– Você não se lembra agora de mim, no entanto eu sou Isabel de Aragão. Eu não conhecia senhora alguma que tivesse este nome e estranhei o que ela dizia, entretanto uma força interior me continha e calei qualquer comentário, em torno de minha ignorância. Mas o diálogo estava iniciado e indaguei: – Senhora, sou pobre e nada tenho para dar. Que auxílio poderei prestar aos mais pobres do que eu mesmo?

O próprio médium já havia relatado, anteriormente, como Ela disse: iniciou suas lides no campo assistencial, conforme podemos ler no livro Chico Xavier - Mandato de – Você me auxiliará a repartir pães com os necessitados. Amor, publicado pela União Espírita Mineira. Clamei com pesar: Eis como Chico Xavier se referiu ao seu primeiro encontro – Senhora, quase sempre não tenho pão para mim. Como com a rainha Isabel de Aragão, ocorrido em 1927: poderei repartir pães com os outros?... "Tudo seguia em ordem, quando na noite de 10 de julho referido, dois dias depois de haver recebido a primeira mensagem, quando eu fazia as orações da noite, vi o meu quarto pobre se iluminar, de repente. As paredes refletiam a luz de um prateado lilás. Eu estava de joelhos, conforme os meus hábitos católicos, e descerrei os olhos, tentando ver o que se passava. Vi, então, perto de mim uma senhora de admirável presença, que irradiava a luz que se espraiava pelo quarto. Tentei levantar-me para demonstrar-lhe respeito e cortesia, mas não consegui permanecer de pé e dobrei, involuntariamente, os joelhos diante dela. A dama iluminada fitou a imagem de Nossa Senhora do Pilar que eu mantinha em meu quarto e, em seguida, falou em castelhano que eu compreendi, embora sabendo que eu ignorava o idioma, em que ela facilmente se expressava:

A dama sorriu e me esclareceu: – Chegará o tempo em que você disporá de recursos. Você vai escrever para as nossas gentes peninsulares e, trabalhando por Jesus, não poderá receber vantagem material alguma pelas páginas que você produzir, mas vamos providenciar para que os Mensageiros do Bem lhe tragam recursos para iniciar a tarefa. Confiemos na Bondade do Senhor.”* O relato acima é bem significativo por elucidar um aspecto importantíssimo da obra de Chico Xavier, que foi sua reconhecida dedicação aos mais pobres.


ENGLISH

Chico Xavier and his dedication to the poor. From the book Chico Xavier and Isabel, the Holy Queen of Portugal, published by Madras. The book features a biography of Chico Xavier and of Queen Isabel of Aragon, considered the Holy Queen of Portugal. Chico registered her presence at the beginning of his journey as a medium, at which time he still was under a strong influence of his Catholic upbringing. Isabelof Aragon encouraged Chico to the practice of charity and told him that, in future, he would be able to help many institutions with the proceeds from the sale of his publications, a fact that really happened with the donation of the copyright of all his mediumnistic writings. . The medium had already reported how he had begun his work in the assitstance field, as we can read in the book Chico Xavier - Mandate of Love, which was published by the União Espírita Mineira. Here's how Chico Xavier referred to his first meeting with Queen Isabel of Aragon, which occurred in 1927: "Everything was moving along well when, in the evening of July 10, two days after receiving the first message, as I was saying my evening prayer, and I suddenly saw my room become illuminated. The walls reflected a silvery lilac light. I was on my knees, following the habits of the Catholics, when I opened my eyes trying to see what was happening. I then saw the admirable presence of a lady next to me, whose light was spread throughout the room. I tried to stand up to show Her respect and courtesy, but I could not remain up; I involuntarily turned on my knees before her. The illuminated lady looked at the image of Our Lady of the Pillar which I held in my room, and then spoke in Castilian. I was able to understand her, although I was aware that I did not know that language in which she could easily express herself. She said: - Francisco -speaking slowly -- in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, I come to request your assistance for the poor, our brothers. The emotion took over all my soul, and in spite of the tears that covered my face, I could still ask her: - Lady, who are you? She replied: - You will not remember me now; however, I am Isabel of Aragon. I did not know any lady by that name and what she was saying sounded strange to me. However, an inner force helped me stay quiet and refrain from making any

comments about my ignorance. But since the dialogue had been initiated, and I asked: - Lady, I am poor and have nothing to give. What help could I give to someone poorer than myself? She said: - You’ll help me share the bread with the needy. I cried with grief:- Lady, I almost always have no bread for msyself. How can I share bread with others...? The lady smiled and explained: - Time will come when you will have resources. You will write to our people in the Peninsula, and, working for Jesus, you won’t receive material benefits for the pages that you will produce. However, we will arrange for the Messengers of the Goodness to bring resources for you to start the task. Trust in the Goodness of the Lord. " The above account is highly significant for the elucidation of an important aspect of the life of Chico Xavier, which was his great dedication to the poor.

ISABEL DE ARAGON


Understanding Hunger and Poverty in the U.S. About Food Security

About Poverty in the U.S. According to a study published in 2004 by The Heritage Foundation, ¨The typical American defined as "poor" by the government has a car, air conditioning, a refrigerator, a stove, a clothes washer and dryer, and a microwave. He has two color televisions, cable or satellite TV reception, a VCR or DVD player, and a stereo. He is able to obtain medical care. His home is in good repair and is not overcrowded. By his own report, his family is not hungry and he had sufficient funds in the past year to meet his family's essential needs. While this individual's life is not opulent, it is equally far from the popular images of dire poverty conveyed by the press, liberal activists, and politicians.¨ 1

Feeding America, the largest national food bank association, of which Feeding South Florida is a member and provide food products for a low maintenance fee to Bezerra de Menezes Food Pantry, reports there are over 403,600 people in MiamiDade County experiencing food insecurity each year, including approximately 137,000 children. With a 28.5 percent poverty rate, Miami is the fifth poorest city in the nation. 2600 families have registered with the BM Food Pantry in their 27 months of operation. In 2005, author John Scalzi wrote a simple but brilliant essay on what being poor is in reality for millions of Americans. Among In the US, there are approximately 2,000,000 farmers, less than his observations: 1% of the population. A direct relationship exists between food consumption levels and poverty. Families with the financial - Being poor is hoping the toothache goes away. resources to escape extreme poverty rarely suffer from chronic - Being poor is thinking $8 an hour is a really good deal. hunger, while poor families not only suffer the most from - Being poor is relying on people who don’t give a damn about chronic hunger, but are also the segment of the population you. most at risk during food shortages and famines. - Being poor is an overnight shift under fluorescent lights. Food Security definition by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA): •

Food security for a household means access by all members at all times to enough food for an active, healthy life. Food security includes at a minimum (1) the ready availability of nutritionally adequate and safe foods, and (2) an assured ability to acquire acceptable foods in socially acceptable ways (that is, without resorting to emergency food supplies, scavenging, stealing, or other coping strategies).

About Food Justice This movement takes a collective approach to achieve food security. It notes that globally enough food is produced to feed the entire world population at a level adequate to ensure that everyone can be free of hunger and fear of starvation. That no one should live without enough food because of economic constraints or social inequalities is the basic goal. Food security should be a basic human right. It should be a fairer distribution of food, particularly grain crops, as a means of ending chronic hunger and malnutrition. The core of the Food Justice movement is the belief that what is lacking is not food, but the political will to fairly distribute food regardless of the recipient’s ability to pay.

- Being poor is six dollars short on the utility bill and no way to close the gap. - Being poor is people surprised to discover you’re not actually stupid. - Being poor is knowing you work as hard as anyone, anywhere. - Being poor is getting tired of people wanting you to be grateful. - Being poor is people who have never been poor wondering why you choose to be. - Being poor is knowing how hard it is to stop being poor. ¨Several hundred people added their own observations to Scalzi’s essay, making it perhaps one of the most definitive oral descriptions of poverty in recent years. Poorness, we learn, isn’t just a number –- it’s not just a salary or a neighborhood –but something that encompasses every facet of a person’s life, from health and social opportunities, to where we live, and whom we can attract as a partner. Poverty carries an emotional and stigmatizing price. It’s losing teeth at a young age because a $600 root canal or 50% co-pay is unaffordable, and then losing out on social and job opportunities because of a marred appearance. It’s not being able to afford to pay a $50 fine for a traffic violation, and ending up in jail.


It’s having to sell everything you own to pay the rent for just one month. Or losing your ID or drivers license and not being able to afford to replace them. It’s having no credit and no cash for a flat tire or any other emergency. It’s having poor credit, and being charged exorbitant interest rates, and paying higher rates for auto insurance than not even drunk drivers pay. It’s a life where nearly everyday comes with some anxiety, panic, or dread.

plight. It’s a particularly grim and harsh story in a society where the pursuit of happiness is a constitutional right, but where there’s really no such thing as a level playing field. Presently, the circumstances that help create happiness – including those as basic as personal security, health, food, and shelter – are increasing in price while wages and job opportunities stagnate, leaving the poor poorer, and millions more at risk.¨ 2 References

Image: graur razvan ionut / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

1

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Robert E. Rector is Senior Research Fellow in Domestic Policy Studies and Kirk A. Johnson, Ph.D., is Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Fellow in Statistical Welfare Research in the Center for Data Analysis at The Heritage Foundation. http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2004/01/under standing-poverty-in-america By Jane Devin http://janedevin.com/2008/10/08/whatdoes-poor-mean-in-america/

Maybe we´ll never agree on what is to be poor in America, but the truth is that when a mother or a father comes to a Church, government office or to our home, asking for help to feed their family, that cried needs to be heard and attended. If we can To live in poverty is to be hastily judged, and told you should offer food, a job and our friendship for sure we have had have taken better care of your teeth to start with, and that if covered all fronts. At Bezerra de Menezes Food Pantry, we are you can’t afford a car you shouldn’t drive one –- never mind open to all souls looking for food and a place to share their life experiences under God´s love. how your teeth got damaged, or whether or not you have bus service in your neighborhood. It’s being denied employment Dear reader: You can help these many families in the Miami opportunities based on your faded clothes or credit score. Dade County area that are struggling to put food on their tables. We can see the numbers, the percentages of poverty and It’s being thought of as irresponsible even when you have unemployment, without realize that moe than numbers there are made your paycheck stretch as far as it could go. It’s buying a people, every digit has a face. We have met some of them and .79 cup of coffee at the convenience store in the morning on we invite you to stop by on a Sunday afternoon and meet some the way to work and having someone, likely a better-off of the families registered in our program. relative, tell you that this is why you’re poor and can’t afford to pay your rent –- because you waste your money. It’s knowing Just $10, provides food for a family of four. $50 will go a long that no matter what you do, or how hard you try, someone will way for five familes of the 1600 registered in the Bezerra de view you harshly because you have not risen to their class Menezes Food Pantry. level. You can send your check, payable to Bezerra de Menezes to our It’s hearing the rags to riches stories, looking desperately for hope, only to learn about the privileged circumstances, inheritances, benefactors, or rare open doors that led to success. It’s hearing how all those things are negated by successful people when they talk about “working hard” and “creating their own luck”. It’s waking up every day to face a society that believes its own American dream cliches, but that puts no stock in the truth of your own story. This is what poorness in America is, and unfortunately it is largely misunderstood, ignored, or viewed as an incurable

office at 6450 NW 77th CT Miami FL 33166 Or using Paypal, send your donation to info@spiritist.com remember to mention Food Pantry Your Donation will be Tax deductible since Bezerra de Menezes is a 501(c)(3) organization. Visit us on the web www.spiritist.com/fp Luis Salazar Coordinator BM Food Pantry


Bezerra de Menezes Food Pantry Report  

BM Food Pantry Report is a digital periodical distributed FREE to Donors, Government agencies, Volunteers and General Public. The main objec...

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