Urging our nation's leaders to end hunger

What if Thanksgiving Was Cut?

Photo by Flickr user OakleyOriginals

As my colleague Ben D’Avanzo wrote earlier, the American Farm Bureau Federation reported that Thanksgiving dinner will cost 13 percent more this year.  The average cost for 10 servings with the basic trimmings totals $49.20 or about $5.00 per person, which seems reasonable as long as no one wants seconds.  But if your family is anything like mine, Thanksgiving is a meal that starts mid-afternoon and continues with grazing throughout the evening, interspersed with re-told stories (a few that are actually true), football, and ends with very full bellies.

The average $5.00 a serving got me thinking about the more than 45 million Americans in August who depended on a SNAP (food stamps) allocation of about $4 a day to meet their food needs.  A Thanksgiving feast is already difficult for many struggling in today’s tough economy.

Then I started thinking about future Thanksgivings and about some of the possible ways our Congress may decide to cut the budget. Even though the Super Committee ended its talks, many of the programs Bread members care about are at risk. What if Congress decides to block grant a program like SNAP so the safety-net program can no longer expand in times of need?  What if they cut or reduce other programs, like the Earned Income Tax Credit, that low-income working Americans use to piece together resources that meet their basic needs?

Thanksgiving is an American ritual where food reinforces our values, our relationships and it is time to thank God for our abundance of blessings.  It’s a time to share bread and wine with our family, neighbors, friends and sometimes the stranger. Throughout the Bible, sharing meals -- whether with the multitude or during the Last Supper -- is a powerful symbol that reinforces what it means to share the body of Christ. Thanksgiving is for everyone -- but what if it isn’t?  What if Thanksgiving is a meal that only the privileged can afford?

As Bread founder Art Simon reminds us in a recent letter, “cutting these programs [such as SNAP] will have a devastating impact on the most vulnerable members of our society.”  I can’t stand idly by and just imagine “what ifs.” Despite the end of the Super Committee talks, members of Congress will continue to negotiate deficit reduction proposals. Please join me and other Bread members using our gift of citizenship this Thanksgiving season, and ask our members of Congress to protect poor and hungry people. Let’s share God’s abundance with others.

Robin-stephensonRobin Stephenson is a regional organizer for Bread for the World.




« Abandonment in the Midst of Abundance: Protecting Poor and Hungry People A Prayer for Thanksgiving: May We Love Those Who Hunger »


I can't imagine Thanksgiving to be cut. I hope that day will never happen. The stats you presented are pretty alarming. But I guess we should be thankful for what we have. Happy Thanksgiving everyone.


I enjoyed reading your blog post. You hit the nail on the head over and over and over again with this post. If only our leaders would step up and make the difference that is needed to feed people that are truly in need. Our brothers and sisters across our country are asking for a hand up, and not a hand out imagine if this was actually given! We all get a piece of the pie and have left overs of all the trimmings for later. Keep up the great work!

Brian D. Banks
Director of Public Policy & Community Outreach
The Capital Area Food Bank - Serving DC, MD, VA

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