Seeing Through Jesus’ Eyes: An Advocate’s Journey
After seeing the documentary A Place at the Table, Lori Abshire participated in a SNAP challenge and her church's Offering of Letters. Photo: Participants at the National Hunger-Free Communities Summit watch a preview of A Place at the Table. (Amanda Lucidon for Bread for the World)
By Lori Abshire
This winter I took a poverty class at my church, King Avenue United Methodist. The class, led by Pastor John, was amazing and touched my heart in many ways, but I was overwhelmed by what I learned. What could I do to make a difference when faced with such an enormous problem? The class culminated in a trip to see the documentary A Place at the Table, which highlights the hunger epidemic in the United States.
The documentary shook me to my core. I couldn’t get the image of Rosie, a 12-year-old Colorado girl, out of my head. “ I struggle a lot,” Rosie said in the documentary. “Most of the time it is because my stomach is really hurting and I zone out. I’m just looking at the teacher and all I am thinking about is food.” I had to do something so I decided for the first time I would be one of “those people” on Facebook—I was going to make people aware of the facts about food insecurity and food stamps, or SNAP.
This is a personal issue for me. My family had to be on food stamps when I was growing up. My mom worked hard—there wasn’t a lazy bone in her body—but we couldn’t make it sometimes without food stamps. I am thankful that safety net was there for us. Growing up, I thought anyone with a full refrigerator was wealthy. I will never forget the first time, as an adult, that my refrigerator was full. I had learned by then that it didn't make you wealthy, but I was grateful.
A couple weeks ago, Pastor John spoke about seeing things through Jesus’ eyes. I tried to see this issue that way. I made a commitment to stick to a SNAP food budget for a week, starting Monday, March 25. Can you guess the food stamp allotment for an adult for seven days? It’s about $31 per adult, per week—or $4.45 a day.
I went to Wal-Mart to get the cheapest prices. I tried to make the best choices possible. Produce was so expensive, but I was lucky to be able to buy a banana for each day, an apple, and two oranges. I couldn’t believe the apple I bought was 83 cents!
The only meat I was able to purchase was two cans of tuna. My protein sources were milk, yogurt, peanut butter, black beans, and that tuna.
I can certainly see why someone would buy a bag of chips for $1.50 instead of the carrots I bought. Chips have 800 plus calories and my carrots had maybe 200 total. I can see why people make the choices they make.
I did this to help educate our children and my friends and family. I found that I was OK with being one of those people on Facebook. I opened up a lot of dialogue. I hope I opened some people’s eyes. Hopefully, they started to see things through Jesus’ eyes.
We live in the world’s wealthiest nation, yet more than 50 million Americans struggle to put food on the table. My church has conducted an Offering of Letters, asking our president and members of Congress to enact a plan to end hunger. I hope you’ll join us.
Lori Abshire attends King Avenue United Methodist Church and lives in Columbus, Ohio.
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