Over 42 million Americans
Lived in food-insecure households in 2015.
The U.S. Missions Philosophy of Ministry reflects the words of Jesus about the poor and hungry: “.... for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me." Matthew 25:31-36 (KJV)
"Not all of us can do great things, but we can do small things with great love."
- Mother Teresa
"I have no right to preach the gospel to someone who is hungry."
- Pastor Randel Everett
Human Needs Index (HNI) - Recommended by researchers at The Brookings Institute, the HNI gives analysis of consistent data from services provided by the Salvation Army, giving a view of poverty through the measurement of consumption of services rather than simply on income or census-type data collection.
"Share of Children Living in Food-Insecure Households, by State" from The Hamilton Project - interactive map. See also "Twelve Facts about Food Insecurity and SNAP" from the Brookings Institute, drawing on Hamilton Project data for an in-depth analysis of the types of households experiencing food insecurity and their relationship to government nutrition support programs.
National Center for Children in Poverty - Research center for assembling facts and statistics and putting them to work informing policy and equipping communities.
The Corporation for Enterprise Development is a national nonprofit dedicated to empowering low-income families in the area of asset development and a leading source for data about family economics.
America's Children: Key National Indicators of Well-Being (comprehensive report on living conditions, economic status, family conditions, and more from the Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics)
How many kids in your state or county are hungry? Use the Annie E. Casey Foundation's Kids Count Data Center to generate a custom report on the social and economic situation for kids in your area. Site includes reports by various demographic factors such as number of parents in the home, income level, child support, and more.
Urban Institute Research Areas: Recent research and statistics on a variety of topics including economic well-being, child welfare, neighborhoods and youth neighborhood violence, and much more
No Kid Hungry
Report: "Access to Food for Homeless and Highly Mobile Students"
U.S. Map Meal Gap: Interactive map with data for each state
State Fact Data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture
Brookings Institution's interactive map of Earned Income Tax Credit by county . Also from Brookings - "Who Is Poor in the United States?", an analysis of who is not working or not earning a living wage, and why, which can be helpful to those trying to formulate policy to help them.
The sporadically homeless or working poor often make their homes in low-cost motels. Motel Church works to create Christian community by offering church, complete with music, message, baptisms, and fellowship, in these motel settings. Contact them for assistance on starting a ministry in your area.
New from The Chalmers Center: Helping without Hurting in Church Benevolence - Brian Fikkert and Steve Corbett drill down on the principles of their earlier book, Helping without Hurting, moving the context to the North American church. They remind the reader that true poverty alleviation involves restoration of right relationships, and touch on several key topics including trauma-informed assistance and relief vs. development.
Training for churches from Faith for Just Lending: Many families find themselves trapped in predatory payday loans at exorbitant interest. This coalition of churches and faith-based organizations is doing something about it. Find out how your church can help people break free of the high-interest debt cycle. An excellent biblically-based commentary on this topic is "Protect the Poor; Don't Profit from Their Need," in PE News.
"Are Evangelical Churches Abandoning the Working Class?" - from the Christian Post, this article challenges churches to keep up with transition in their communities as the loss of manufacturing jobs places many rural communities at social and economic risk.
Circles USA - Visit their website to find out how your church can get involved in this mentor-based, community partnership model to end poverty.
Community Action Poverty Simulations - Many community action coalitions offer poverty simulation workshops, a hands-on interactive experience designed to help business and community leaders better understand the daily challenges faced by the poor. Consider attending one or offering your church as a host site.
Christian Community Development Association offers coaching and training in Asset-Based Community Development, along with yearly conferences and workshops, to assist churches in becoming catalysts for community improvement.
Tools for community transformation from Communities First Association, a national faith-based coalition of experts in asset-based community development.
Atlanta Dream Center inner-city mission trips and outreach training
The Chalmers Center's Faith and Finances: Training for churches to empower the poor in their communities through practical, Bible-based budgeting classes
Jobs for Life: ". . . a discipleship platform to help underserved men and women find jobs and experience life in Christ." Find out how to become a host site with trained volunteers, equipping the unemployed with a new vision of themselves as created by God for meaningful work, and the skills they need to find it.
Rural Compassion's Suggested Outreaches for Rural Churches: U.S. Missionary Steve Donaldson addresses the particular needs of America's rural poor through his ministry, resourcing rural churches and pastors to reach out to their communities with school supplies, shoes, community food events, and more.
From PE News: "Hoping for Happier Trails" -
A new Smoky Mountain Dream Center seeks to address problems caused by poverty, addiction, and incarceration
in the rural Appalachians.
Here's another exciting testimony about
teaming up with a small-town pastor to bless the community with shoes, backpacks, and a weekly hot dog supper!
Is your church in or near a run-down neighborhood?
Get inspired by reading what one church has done to transform a blighted neighborhood while providing affordable housing
for low income residents: "Church Partners to Transform Blighted Area in Its Backyard."
Is your congregation willing to share your facilities to bless your neighborhood with a clinic or other needed service or outreach?
Read how one church has opened a community clinic, complete with volunteer doctors, nurses, and office staff,
in "The Right Prescription," from PE News.
Attend a small church?
Please don't think small congregation size means you can't help! Check out "Make Partnerships, Not Excuses," the story of a 35-member church partnering in their community to make a difference for the homeless and hungry.
Steve Donaldson, U.S. Missionary, Rural Compassion
Richard Smith, U.S. Missionary and church planter/pastor, inner city Philadelphia
Atlanta Dream Center staff
Get inspired by Bushels of Blessings, a modern-day gleaning program to collect some of the estimated 70 billion pounds of food wasted in America each year because it doesn't quite meet marketing standards or is simply excess in some venues. How much better to create partnerships between farmers and food pantries and get that food to people who need it! Partner with them in the Northeast, or contact them for help starting something similar in your area.
A new report from The Joyce Foundation and SRI Education highlights research on the personal skills needed to find and succeed at meaningful work. The report cites research about the required skills, indicates that such skills can be learned, and recommends policies that can be implemented to help. "Empowering Adults to Thrive at Work: Personal Success Skills for 21st Century Jobs"
2-1-1 Initiative - Free, confidential service to help connect people nationwide with the services they need. Can also be accessed by calling 2-1-1.
Being read to by a parent or caregiver is an early intervention that helps kids succeed and break the poverty cycle. You can help that happen: Reach Out & Read partners with medical providers to make sure families have access to this simple, but valuable, chiild development tool. Springboard Collaborative provides reading enrichment materials to involve parents in preventing the backward slide experienced by low-income children in the summer. And music star Dolly Parton has created the Imagination Library to place age-appropriate books in low-income homes that cannot afford quality books for their children.
Community Health Centers provide a sense of "home" and relationship with medical providers, for a variety of medical services with the costs based on what the patient can afford to pay. Click here to view a map from the Health Resources and Services Administration and find a center in your area.
Food assistance programs from the USDA Food & Nutrition Service: Find eligibility requirements, food distribution sites, and more.
The Salvation Army - Serving approximately 30 million people in 2014, the Salvation Army offers assistance with basic life necessities--food and shelter--along with Christmas assistance from the familiar red buckets, but also offers rehabilitation services, children's camps and after-school services, prison ministries, anti-trafficking efforts, and much more. Enter your ZIP code to find a center.
Some communities are creating partnerships to reclaim unused food and package it for distribution to shelters and food pantries. One such program is spearheaded by ProMedica in Toledo, Ohio. Read more about it here.
Citizen Schools: This organization mobilizes community partners and volunteers to help close the opportunity gap in low-income schools, by extending the school day with enrichment activities.
iMentor - By matching students in low-income schools with college-educated or college student mentors, this program helps improve graduation and college attendance rates by coaching students in necessary skills, both academically and in skills such as how to relate to teachers and how financial aid programs work.
OIC of America: Partnering with faith-based and other community groups, to help break the cycle of poverty. Programs for job training, community development, marriage enrichment, and more.
Training, toolkits, and research from the Asset-Based Community Development Institute: Empowering communities to recognize and build on their own strengths.
Want to get your hands dirty, get some exercise, and help your community? Check out these inspirational talks and articles from urban gardener Ron Finley, who plants vegetable gardens all over south central Los Angeles.
Blog post: "The Terrible Loneliness of Growing Up Poor in Robert Putnam's America" explores class inequality and why those who grew up in opportunity may never understand the challenges facing those who did not.