By Jaclyn Bonner
My late grandmother, Edna Wood Bonner, grew up during the Great Depression. She sought to emulate the strength and selflessness she saw modeled by her own mother, Maggie Wood, who became a single parent of seven shortly after my grandmother and her twin brother were born.
It does not require statistics from the 1930s to understand the difficulties Maggie faced. She labored under the hot sun daily as a cotton picker, but this did not provide an income adequate to raise two sets of twins and three other daughters alone.
Like many mothers who desire the best for their children, Maggie made the difficult decision to place her children in institutionalized care. In 1932, at the age of eight, Edna and her twin brother were sent to the local orphanage, joining their siblings and other children whose parents were deceased or unable to care for their primary needs.
While the current economic situation of our nation does not rival that of the Great Depression, hunger is still hurting families today.
Feeding Texas reports that a study released by the United States Department of Agriculture found that 1.4 million Texas households were food insecure from 2014-2016. One in seven families in our state, 14.3 percent of households, are unable to put food on the table every night.
Hunger in Texas is higher than the national average*, but it is only a microcosm of the pervasiveness and severity of global hunger. The World Food Programme announced that 815 million people, one in nine, go to bed hungry every night. One in three people in the world are malnourished.
“In many developing countries, extreme poverty, and specifically, lack of food, pushes desperate parents to give up on their children and take them to an orphanage or leave them in care of local child protective services,” explains Connie Belciug, executive director of Children’s Emergency Relief International, a Texas Baptist Hunger Offering ministry that provides humanitarian aid to vulnerable children and their struggling families.
Like my great-grandmother, parents across the world struggle to feed their children. Hunger should not separate families, but it all too often does. The Hunger Offering is helping reverse the disheartening situation.
“The Hunger Offering helps us keep families together,” said Belciug. “Our program is designed to strengthen families on the brink of separation, especially women-led households. We offer them food and social services, which taken together, represent the much needed impetus for them to keep fighting, care for their children, and develop hope.”
Join us in fighting the effects of hunger on families by becoming a monthly or quarterly Hunger Offering partner. Sign up here. Learn how to get your church engaged in hunger relief and development here.
*Feeding Texas (2017)