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4 Myths about Poverty and Hunger

We all have some preconceived notions about poverty and hunger, but how accurate are those notions? Here are four ideas many of us have about hunger, and a dose of the truth.

  1. Hunger-related deaths are a problem in developing nations, but not in America:
    Though most of the world’s hunger-related deaths are in developing nations, there are Americans suffering and even dying from hunger and hunger-related illness. The actual stats in the U.S are about .58 of every 1000 deaths is caused by hunger. That’s way lower than places like Ethiopia, but in modern, democratic America, it’s still too many.
    And hunger is about more than life and death. Children who do not get proper nutrients can face permanent physical and mental disabilities, stunted growth, and lack the immunities to fight off other things.
  2. SNAP (food stamps) are frequently abused, with recipients using their benefits for junk food, soda, or pet food:
    In fact, SNAP benefits can only be used for approved items. The benefits are preloaded onto a card, and when the card is swiped only the value of approved purchases is charged to the card. SNAP covers milk, cheese, fruits and veggies, grains, meat and eggs, and other necessary food items. It is not good for the purchase of pet foods, soda, baby formula or diapers, or junk foods like chips and cookies.
  3. In America, hunger and poverty are limited to poor areas like Appalachia, the “rust belt,” and Native American Indian reservations:
    While those areas may have more poor and hungry per capita, the truth is that every single county in the United States has some people living below the poverty line and fighting food insecurity. Every.Single.County. The idea that it “doesn’t happen here” is a lie we tell ourselves so that we don’t feel guilty. Know the truth. There is poverty in your county. There are people who rely on the local food bank.
  4. Poverty is caused by unemployment and laziness:
    Yes and no. Obviously not working means not getting paid, and a period of unemployment can dig a hole that takes years to recover from. But one in four American workers brings home wages at or below the poverty line. Low-paying retail, service, and factory jobs are often not enough to make ends meet. These jobs usually don’t come with benefits, either, so an unpaid sick day can be very costly.

I hope this gives you a better understanding of the realities of poverty and hunger in America today. What surprised you?

Service Project: The Loved Bible Project


Recently a couple of friends of mine (Kelli and Tracy of All Your Heart Ministries) told me about a cool new service project. It’s called the Loved Bible Project, and it is right up my alley! Basically you start with a new bible, love on it, and hand it off to someone in need (need is relative: They could be in need financially, or just in need of hope and comfort. I’ll get to that later…). They receive God’s word, pre-highlighted, hand-annotated, and filled with encouraging notes, just as if they had inherited a much-loved bible from a loved one. I love to doodle and write, and I love God’s word, so I knew I wanted to be a part of this.

Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path. Psalm 119:105

No sooner had I decided that this was a service project I wanted to do, then Christian Book Distributors emailed me about a sale event and free shipping promo. I scoured their website and found a number of bibles in various translations for under $5 each. I went with the NIV version, because that’s a common and trusted version, and one I’m familiar with. I got two plain bibles and two with huge pink daisies on their green, faux-leather covers. I don’t know if it’s just because I’m a boy mom or if it was God’s leading, but I was smitten with the idea of using lots of color and pretty doodles and sending it off to a girl or young woman.


The cool thing about this project (well, one of the cool things) is that God already knows the young woman who will own this bible. He knows her needs now and in the future. He knows what verses she will need to cling to and what encouragement she will need to hear. It is not in my power to minister to this stranger because I know nothing. But God knows. So I started this project by praying for her. I prayed for inspiration and direction as I prepare this bible for this stranger. And I continued to pray as I added to the bible.



I’m a scrapbooker, so I had lots of fun things to use to decorate the bible! I used stickers, craft tape, markers, metallic gel pens, and more!I found this cool assortment pack of sticky notes at Dollar Tree. I especially love the little flag/arrow notes for pointing out special verses.


I got this set of special highlighters from my secret sister last year. They don’t bleed through the thin pages of a bible. You can find them on Amazon.

As you can see, I had a lot of fun with this project. I want to add a few more things to it, but when it’s done I’m mailing it to my friend Renee at ReBuild, a ministry to the down and out of the Huntington WV area. Figuring in the cost of the bible, shipping it to Renee, and the few supplies I bought to supplement my scrapbooking stash, I completed this project for about $10. It is my prayer that God would take my little investment of $10 and a couple hours and turn it into something priceless!

If you are interested in more information about the Loved Bible Project, check out the Loved Bible Project website or the All Your Heart Ministries website. There is a ton of inspiration there, pics of projects, etc. You can also search “scripture journaling” or “loved bible” on Pinterest to get some ideas. I did my first bible without a theme, but they can be specific as well. For example, you could love a bible for a single mom friend, someone in cancer treatment, or someone experiencing a loss. You could gather with a group of women, share supplies, and love bibles together as a church or bible study women’s event.

Finished bibles can be sent to the Loved Bible Project (see their website for info), and they will be distributed to the homeless, or you can send them to ReBuild – Renee says they’ll take as many as they can get and will distribute them to the people they work with. Other ministries local to you may be interested in taking loved bibles as well. You just have to ask!

Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God. Matthew 4:4

Talking to Your Kids About Hunger (and other difficult subjects)

Talking to your kids about hungerOne of the great challenges of parenthood is talking to your kids about tough topics like hunger and training them to be critical thinkers and generous adults. Hunger isn’t fair, and it isn’t easy to understand or explain why we have so much when others have so little. Even as adults and parents, we don’t have all the answers. So how do we talk about tough topics like hunger with our kids? The short answer is that it varies – but there are some things we can do to navigate these muddy waters.

  1. Find Balance: (I feel so lame telling you to find balance. It’s like telling you to get more sleep or reduce your stress) Find the right balance between acknowledging the tough issues and controlling your kids’ exposure to troubles. A key here is that if they are old enough to notice and ask questions, they deserve honest answers. At three, a kid isn’t going to understand hunger at all, because they don’t really see past what they want at this exact moment. But we teach toddlers to share, and that’s an age-appropriate start. Preschoolers are more sensitive to what’s going on around them, and they start to see differences between people and ask questions about it. At this point, we can talk about how we are all different, but all loved by God, and all worthy of kindness.

    There is no hard and fast rule that applies to every kid, at every age. Some kids are really sensitive, and they need productive but limited exposure to the world’s bad parts or it eats them up. Other kids are less sensitive, and they sometimes need that exposure to crack through their shells. You know your kids. You know how tough topics affect them. You have to decide how much exposure they can handle.

    Likewise, find balance in your sources. The news media loves to sensationalize the bad parts, and fill the screen with graphic pictures that scare us into tuning in. Other organizations focus on the hope, but many use guilt tactics to raise money. Make sure you’re keeping an eye on what your kids see, and actively balance the messages they’re getting. Ask questions like, “why do you think the ASPCA makes commercials with pictures of sad dogs and cats?” By discussing what they see, you diffuse the guilt-inducing power of advertising and sensational news media. You also open the door to positive conversations.


  1. Turn a Tough Topic into an Opportunity for Conversation: Once a tough conversation starts, our instinct is often to provide trite answers and end it as fast as possible. We’re afraid we’ll say the wrong thing or upset our sensitive kids. And to be quite frank, we’re uncomfortable with the unfairness of hunger, and many of us struggle with guilt over how much we have and how others suffer. But I urge you, don’t shut down a wondering child. That sends the message that they shouldn’t care, and I know that’s not the message you want to send.

    Instead, turn the conversation into an opportunity. Talk about how things aren’t fair and we should be thankful for everything we have. Talk about what the Bible says about poverty and hunger, and what the Bible tells us to do. Deuteronomy 6:6-9 says, “These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.” Take ANY and EVERY opportunity to talk to your kids about God and his commands!

  2. Look for Heroes and Ways to Help: Beloved TV host Mr. Rogers once said, “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’” This is a great reminder to us adults when we watch the news, and good parenting advice as well. Remind your kids (and yourself) to look for the people who are standing up for justice. Look for the heroes who rush in when everyone is rushing out. Look for the aid workers who dedicate their lives to being in hard places for the sake of others. Look for volunteers and donors who make recovery possible.

    And then ask the most important question of all – “how can we help?” Finding a way to get involved diffuses feelings of powerlessness, victimization, and selfishness. Helping teaches compassion and generosity, and instills in us all a sense of community. Serving others is obedience to God’s commands. It opens doors for new friendships and opportunities to tell others about Jesus.

    If you’re not sure where to start, here are a few ideas:
    – In the search bar at the top of this page, key in “service projects” and all the posts I’ve done on that topic will appear.
    – Food Shelf Friday’s Pinterest page has two boards of service project ideas, and one of them is specifically geared toward serving with kids.
    – Sponsor a child through Compassion International, or write to your sponsored child.
    – Go through your toys and clothes, and donate a box of clean, usable items to your local Salvation Army, Goodwill, or local food shelf (If they take that type of donation).
    – Pick up a few extra items when you’re shopping, and donate them to a food shelf or a supply drive at your church.

There are a ton of ways you and your family can help others; this barely scratches the surface! Feel free to share ideas in the comments!

Mission, Vision, and Values

Reminder: We’re down to TWO DAYS to order the Nourish Hope necklace in time for Mothers Day! The necklace WILL continue to be available after that, but if you want it in time for Mothers Day, you must order before May 1. Whether you are ordering or not, PLEASE help us raise lots of money for Venture by sharing on social media. There are shareable posts on the Food Shelf Friday Facebook page and @Foodshelffriday on Twitter. Thank you!

Mission Vision Values

I don’t have a regular post for you this week. I spent the last two days at a conference for work, I have been working diligently on my thesis (88 pages and counting!), and I’m going through a brand strategy course through Amye Still (it’s called Brand By Design, and it is helping me sort through all the dreams in my head and figure out exactly what God wants Food Shelf Friday to be and how I can get there. It has been great! If you have a blog, business, ministry, or MLM, I highly recommend it.) So, you know, time…

Anyway, this week in Brand By Design, we worked out mission and vision statements for our businesses/blogs. I gave a lot of thought and prayer to what Food Shelf Friday is and what God wants it to be. The image above shows what I came up with. The easiest part was the values – faith, hope, and love. I said to myself, “what do I value as Food Shelf Friday?” and it was just there. I value faith; it’s the heart of why I advocate for the hungry – because caring for the poor is what God requires of us and because I want them to have a chance to know Christ. I value hope; I don’t believe that God is glorified in guilt, and I always strive to encourage and empower people through positive, hope-filled means. Without hope, we’re defeated, just tilting at windmills. Because we have hope, it fuels us. And love – loving God and loving people is what life is all about. So that was a no-brainer. The rest of the wording took a bit more effort…

So that’s what I’ve been up to this week. I promise to bring you more “meat” next week. I’m in the middle of an audio book right now that will become a book review post soon, and I bought a pile of books with a birthday Amazon gift card from my sister, so expect to hear from some experts this summer. I also have a whole brainstormed list of projects and ideas, so there’s lots to look forward to. Thank God my thesis is almost out of the way…

Have a great week!