Thursday, May 25, 2006

Deepening Need, Growing Poverty

Forgive the unintended pun, but here's the story in graphic terms when it comes to food insecurity here in Dallas, Texas.

Compared to this time last year, our Resource Center on Haskell Avenue has experienced a 31% increase in the number of individuals who come to Central Dallas Ministries for assistance with food needs.

This increased demand represents a 34% increase in the number of families who visit our center seeking assistance with their household nutrition needs.

Terry Beer, Resource Center Director, and his team of volunteers do an amazing job in moving what will total at year's end over 1 million pounds of groceries out into the community. But the growth cannot be explained by our increased efficiencies or by our stellar customer service, as good as both of those are.

No, the basic explanation is simple: more people are in need and "the poor" are doing worse today than they were at this same time last year.

I don't know about you, but I have to tell you, this really bothers me.

At the same time, our food costs have soared as we face a stream of people again today who need help with the basic necessities of life. Remember us.


Anonymous said...

Dependency on the government and private agencies probably has done more to keep people in poverty than anything else. Most "poor" people today are better housed, fed and own more personal property than the average American throughout most of the 20th century.

Larry James said...

Come down sometime,Anonymous and meet the people who visit us. Almost 90% of the people who show up here either work--some households have 2-4 jobs under the same roof--but earn too little to cover their living costs, are elderly and can work no longer or are disabled. Less than 11% are unemployed.

Your statistical analysis is great, but it leaves out the on the ground reality of the poor.

What are your solutions? I gather from what you posted that you are basically libertarian and would simply say let the fittest survive and be done with the rest.

Am I correct?

Matthew said...

To be fair to the libertarians, some of them say the poor should be helped, but always by the church, and never by the government.

Anonymous said...

Matthew you are right, I have read countless people on Larry's blog right here say just that.

So, why is the church not doing more? All hat and no cattle, is it?

Jeremy Gregg said...

The church can do "charity" pretty well. It can even lift a few people out of poverty, in extraordinary circumstances. These cases take years and years, and thousands of dollars, and often a huge commitment from both sides.

The church will never be able to accomplish that task as broadly as we need.

Drive around a community in South Dallas. Behold the blight and the utter lack of resources available. Try, for example, to find a grocery store within walking distance of most homes.

The churches in South Dallas can do a better job, true, but they cannot marshall the resources necessary to lift these communities out of poverty.

Why do we have a public military? a public education system? a public health system?

why don't we privatize the highway repair system?

Because "private agencies" alone could never get the job done.

The only point of success for the food pantry will be the day that Larry can close it down, because all of its former clients have the ability to pay for their own groceries.

That day is yet fat away.