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High School Students Help in the Fight Against Hunger

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Teenagers at Historic Christ Church in Alexandria, Va., organized a special post-card writing event the Sunday before Thanksgiving. Parishoners sent messages to members of Congress, asking them to protect programs that help vulnerable people (Joseph Molieri/Bread for the World).

Just days before Thanksgiving, at a time when many teenagers are focused on holiday plans, a group of Northern Virginia high school students organized an effort to help people in need. After learning that more than half of all youths in their city live in households that sometimes struggle to put food on the table, teenagers at Historic Christ Church in Alexandria, Va., asked parishioners to send messages to Congress in support of anti-hunger programs.

The teens wanted to offer church members an opportunity to take action at a critical moment, when many in their community, and across the country, have been impacted by cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), the ongoing negative effects of sequestration, and a tense budget climate that has placed many safety net programs on the chopping block. They decided to ask church members to send their members of Congress postcards, each one with a message about protecting programs that help hungry families. In addition to the postcards, the teens organized some of the younger students at the church to sort food contributions into a Thanksgiving meal food pantry for the church’s Lazarus ministry, an outreach program that will provide meals for 185 families today.

Their advocacy event was planned to coincide with two Nov. 24 pre-Thanksgiving sermons given by Bread for the World President Rev. David Beckmann, a Christ Church parishioner.

Beckmann told the congregation that the SNAP cut that took effect on Nov. 1 will eliminate 300 million meals for needy people by the end of this month. “This is not a good way to celebrate Thanksgiving," he said.

“Congress is in the process of finalizing deeper cuts to food stamps,” Beckmann added. “The House of Representatives has voted to cut food stamps by $40 billion over ten years…about $4 billion a year. All the food charity that all the churches and food banks in the country mobilize comes to about $4 billion a year in groceries, so the House’s proposed cut would be roughly equivalent to eliminating all the food charity in the country for ten years.”

After each of Beckmann's sermons, the students issued a call to action and asked everyone to write postcards. Parishioners at Christ Church filled out about 250 postcards on Nov. 24, and there will be another postcard-writing event on Dec. 1.  The messages will be delivered to Capitol Hill next week.

Read a full account of the day’s events in the Alexandria News. For more information on how you can organize a letter-writing event in your church, community, or campus group, read more about Bread for the World's Offering of Letters and Bread for the World Sunday events.

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