Each summer, over 60,000 community organizations across the nation—schools, houses of worship, camps, community centers—volunteer to host children of all ages and commit to providing healthy, nutritious meals. This collaboration is called the Summer Meals Program and it helps 3.2 million children get connected with healthy meals all summer long.
Despite this incredible effort, there are still kids who the program doesn’t reach. These are kids who get most of their meals before and during school, but when summer vacation comes they face many weeks of misery because they don’t get enough to eat. This is why the Summer Meals Program is so vital. Without our help only about 17% of eligible children will actually get the meals they need. (WhyHunger.org)
You Can Help
Here in America, where we are blessed with an abundance of food, feeding hungry children is one issue that we can all agree is the right thing to do. This is a moral issue that crosses the boundaries of politics, culture, and geography. Right now there is a bill in the U.S. House of Representatives that would fund nonprofit organizations to provide meals to many more needy kids. Please call or email your Congressperson and ask her/him to vote ‘yes’ on this important piece of legislation.
Information on how to find the name of your representative and his/her contact information is available by clicking on this link to Why Hunger, a 501(c)3 nonprofit charity. And if you can, please also donate to Why Hunger to help them in their very important work. No amount is too small, and your donation is tax deductible.
‘To Do’ in 2016: New Year’s Resolutions
This year’s calendar from the Nature Conservancy
Walk more. Even though the general consensus is that we should walk 10,000 steps per day, the folks at Live Science point out that doing anything beyond what you usually do is an improvement. So if 10k steps seems daunting, try for 5,000. Then work up to a higher goal. Pick up an inexpensive pedometer or spring for a Garmin or FitBit wrist band to keep track of your steps and motivate you to keep moving.
Read something hopeful. Try Bill McKibben’s great memoir, Oil and Honey: The Education of an Unlikely Activist, the story of his experiences as a leader in the *successful* protest against the Keystone XL pipeline. Together, we CAN make a difference. Focus on success as much as on the work that remains.
Read it in paper. Research shows that sleep and concentration are negatively affected when we read on a digital, electronic device. Kindles and iPads have their place, but like Elvis, paper books will never die. Check out more medical benefits of paper.
Demonstration in front of Supreme Court in 2013. Photo: David Sachs/SEIU
Support voting rights. This is the first big voting year since the Supreme Court removed key provisions of the Voting Rights Act. Now it’s very, very important for all of us to speak out if we see someone who is blocked or discouraged from voting. Get informed about the sneaky ways that voting rights of certain groups are abridged. Read more on this important topic from Marc Morial, CEO of the National Urban League, writing in the New Pittsburgh Courier.
Live more sustainably. Use public transportation. Ride a bike or a scooter. Walk to work (See #1). Buy local foods and eat what’s in season. Don’t let the faucet run or leave the frig door open. Turn down the heat and put on a sweater (See Jimmy Carter, 1977, a president ahead of his time). Or be really ambitious and build an earthship.
And another thing — Don’t make your resolutions list too long or too complicated. A few things done consistently beat a huge list that just gathers dust.
This is not a health care plan
Obviously, the Supreme Court’s decision to allow Hobby Lobby to deny female employees prescription drug coverage for birth control pills has a dramatic impact on women’s health. But it poses plenty of troubling issues for men too. That’s because the premise underlying the decision views the rights of a “closely held” corporation as superior to the rights of an individual. And not just any right — the right of an individual to control his/her physical person.
Had the “public option” not been dropped from healthcare reform, we might not have this problem. But as long as the US expects employers to shoulder the primary responsibility for providing health insurance, this conflict of values will be a source of contention. If the Hobby Lobby owners choose to ignore scientific fact, viewing some forms of contraception as abortifacients, that’s their prerogative. But that’s no reason they should block an employee’s access to a particular type of medication. Hobby Lobby is, after all, merely a middleman in the health insurance supply chain.
The Hobby Lobby decision raises several pertinent questions for all people. Can a “closely held” corporation…
- Refuse to insure fertility treatments for men and women, since they interfere with divine will?
- Refuse to insure Viagra and similar drugs that encourage male sexual activity beyond a seemly age?
- Block procedures and medications to treat sexually transmitted diseases, clearly only contracted by the immoral and promiscuous?
- Discriminate against gay men? Perhaps their flouting of Leviticus disqualifies them from receiving healthcare altogether.
- Single out HIV and AIDS patients? (I wonder if one could get treatment on the condition that he or she proves the HIV was contracted via blood transfusion or another way that is acceptable to the employer.)
- Take this idea beyond healthcare? For instance, do the Christian consciences of Hobby Lobby’s owners exempt them from public accommodation laws?
Bottom line: Do you control your body? Or does your employer? Or the state, in the guise of five old men clinging to inherited privilege?
It’s an easy out for some to say, “If you don’t like it, don’t work for Hobby Lobby,” but that’s not the point. We’re on a slippery slope and there are 48 similar cases working their way through lower courts right now. As Justice Ginsberg wrote in her dissent, “The Court, I fear, has ventured into a minefield.”