Upfront warning: Some may think that I am being blatantly political in this article. In our culture, that is how you earn the title “Bad Pastor” from some. I would counter that my message here is only peripherally about politics. It is primarily about faithfulness and justice. However, when we talk about feeding the hungry (a command from God throughout the scriptures) we often end up treading on matters related to the King, the President, the Governor, or the Legislature.
We are a congregation committed to feeding the hungry. Jesus taught that the faithful love Christ when they feed the hungry. “When I was hungry, you gave me something to eat.” (Matthew 25). Isaiah says that the acceptable worship of the Lord is to “share your bread with the hungry.” (Isaiah 58) Our food pantry is a response to God’s call. Our support of the Love Lunch program in the summer is a response to God’s call. Our strong support of the ELCA World Hunger Appeal is a response to God’s call.
Dealing with the problem of hunger calls for ministries that feed. It calls for ministries to address root causes of hunger. It calls for people to advocate for the poor. At some point, addressing hunger calls us to speak the truth to those in power when they are not caring for the people placed in their care because they were elected to serve.
We have become pretty good here in Iowa at serving those who have much. We want to be good to businesses, lower taxes, give the rich breaks. Governor Reynolds announced a $1.83 Billion surplus announced in late 2023. The announcement was followed by a call to lower taxes. It was also followed by an announcement in December that we should cut support for the hungry children who live in our state.
On December 22nd, Governor Kim Reynolds announced that Iowa would not participate in the 2024 Summer EBT Food Assistance Program for Children. According to Blake Willadsen of DMARC, in 2023 this Federal program provided $29 million dollars in direct assistance to over 244,000 Iowa children who qualify for free and reduced lunch. This program puts EBT cards worth $120 per child into the hands of parents so that families can buy groceries in their communities.
Iowa and many other states are in a food insecurity crisis. Record numbers of families seek assistance from food pantries – including our own Holy Trinity Food Pantry. With $1.83 billion in the bank, our state wants to cut a lifeline to hungry kids.
According to Willadsen, the same thing happened last year. The voices of people of faith across the state changed the Governor’s mind. Once again, the federal government is willing to work with Iowa, even though the January 1 deadline has passed. I have chosen to write, urging our Governor to change her mind. I invite you to do the same.You can also contact the Governor's office to encourage Iowa to do the right thing and feed children.
I’m really not asking you to be political or forsake your loyalties to party of person (though I will say that our principal loyalty should always be to Christ). I am asking you to speak up for the hungry and make sure that we feed Christ, because he is the hungry child at our door.
Tim Olson – Lead Pastor