The passage in 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 gives comfort and guidance when we think about the serious conditions facing people across the globe. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” We are also reminded of the many hardships that God’s people faced in the Old and New Testament; and we, like others before us, have God’s promises of guidance and comfort. We have always witnessed that power comes with the united effort of many. Christians must unite with other Christians as written in Galatians 6:2, “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” Also, we can find purpose and strength by embracing people of other faiths as we are combating our present-day problems.

The images of the homeless people living on the streets of San Francisco remind us of other sad stories about senseless violence, hungry children and climate disasters. Homelessness and hunger perpetuated by poverty have knocked at too many doors. In America, it seems that the dam is breaking in too many places. It is hard to know which issue should be addressed first. I decided to bring some of the problems closer to home by taking a look at two of North Carolina’s issues, homelessness and hunger.

According to the Continuums of Care to U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, in 2018, “9,268 people were homeless on any given day.” The report noted of that total “897 were family households, 884 were veterans, 478 were unaccompanied young adults.” The U.S. Department of Education reported that during the 2016-2017 school year an estimated “26,361 public school students experienced homelessness.” (Check The United States Interagency Council on Homelessness).

A Gallup Study revealed that North Carolina has the eighth highest rate of food insecurity in the country. Almost 900,000 children in North Carolina, according to the N.C. Department of Public Instruction, are at risk of hunger. More than 693,000 North Carolina students participate in the free or reduced-price lunch program during most years. The N.C. Summer Nutrition Programs provide nutritious meals and activities during the summer. They served “more than 100,000 children per day last year statewide.”

Several sources including the North Carolina General Assembly’s Committee on Food Desert Zones projected that there were over 350 food deserts in North Carolina. These are places without easy access to affordable food. According to the NC Action Research Center, 18 percent of elderly individuals struggle with hunger.

We should acknowledge and praise the religious groups, individual churches, community organizations, donors and volunteers who work to eliminate poverty, homelessness and hunger. Religious denominations and various faiths are working locally to make a difference. Locally, sponsored meals and food banks are available.

In addition to these resources, the government-sponsored SNAP plays a big role in helping those needing assistance. Even with these helpful programs in most North Carolina communities, it is estimated by Feeding America that “1,503,050 people are struggling with hunger and 461,630 are children. Also the organization reports that $735,321,000 more per year is needed to meet the hunger needs in North Carolina. In addition to the available private and public support, attention needs to be placed on higher wages, training for new skills, and more full-time jobs. Sources report some differences in numbers, and the statistics vary each year, but hungry, homeless people are real. I read somewhere that if we all fed just one, there would be no more hunger in America.

“If you can’t feed a hundred people, then feed just one.” — Mother Teresa

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Earl Crow’s column is published Saturdays in the Winston-Salem Journal. Email him at ecrow1@triad.rr.com.

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