Why are the cupboards bare?

24/10/12 | Posted by Ian Black

Over the last couple of years there has been a massive rise in the number of food banks springing up around the country. Churches have been at the forefront of them, indeed have been the instigators and driving force to them. The response is a very impressive one to desperate need. Setting them up though is just the beginning. In 2012 we should not need to hand out food parcels to the destitute in Britain. Why are they needed?

image
 Empty Cupboard

The Trussell Trust, which is one of the leading providers of food banks, says that last year 130,000 people were given food nationally through food banks.  This was double the number the previous year.  In the first six months of this year 100,000 people have received food so the number is set to double again this year.  This is a national disgrace and nothing short of a crisis, which will lead to social unrest and disintegration if we are not careful.

The reasons given for the need include rising fuel costs and this week’s further rises in gas and electricity bills will not help that.  These rises go with static incomes, unemployment, changes to benefits, delays in the payment of those benefits, debt and family breakdown, the latter of which can have its roots in the others.  It is estimated that a staggering 13m people live below the poverty line in the UK and so there are many people living on a knife-edge financially each day.

When Christians dole out food they are applauded for their Christian charity.  But as a former Roman Catholic Archbishop of Brazil, Dom Helder Camara observed, when they ask why we have to do this they are called communists.  There is a prophetic tradition in the bible which sends out a massive warning that this crisis must be taken seriously.

Jesus would have had some sharp questions for our society, for the political leaders and many of our attitudes.  He would have supported food banks.  He would also have asked why these people were hungry.  The food banks are a tremendous tribute to those who make them a reality and their loving concern.  Their need is a national disgrace that disturbs me deeply.

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Amen. Jesus was uncompromising. A society that treats its poor and vulnerable as expendable is not in God’s plan.
May God give us the strength to challenge the powers that be, to help the weak, and to change the hearts of the comfortable.

#1. By Ivor Perry on November 23, 2012

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