By Paul Ainslie, SVdP Indy Council President
In Catholic Social Teaching and in the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, the quest for social justice is very important. Certainly, feeding the hungry, sheltering the unsheltered, and all the other works as prescribed in Mark 25:40 are most important. But many of the roots of poverty reside in social injustices, and we must address them.
Advocacy for social justice can take many forms. Signing a petition for a socially just cause is one way. Supporting groups who actively work to correct social injustices is another. Federal, state and local governments play a major role in social justice by the laws, rules and policies enacted (or not enacted).
To address the social injustice of hunger, our pantry serves thousands each week. Though we hope and pray that those in need of food will become a smaller group, the reality is that the need continues to grow. This is not just in Indianapolis or Indiana but around the world. Pantries like ours—and the hundreds of others around the city and state—provide a needed source of food. But all these charitable pantries provide only one in six meals for the hungry. The other five meals come from various government programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Women, Infants and Children (WIC), Free and Reduced-price Lunches, etc.
Recently, the SVdP Indianapolis Council agreed to partner with Bread for the World on advocacy to end hunger. Bread is a Christian advocacy group working for food program legislation in Indiana, in the U.S. and around the world. Their form of advocacy consists primarily of writing letters or emails to members of Congress to support food aid bills, budgets and policies. These letter-writing campaigns, called “offerings of letters,” are typically conducted in March through May. Bread provides background on the letter topic and a draft letter for writers to personalize. The whole process takes no more than 20 minutes.
This type of advocacy is best carried out at the Conference level. At your next Conference meeting please consider adding this important activity to your agenda. For additional information, visit www.bread.org or contact Steve Gillman at firstname.lastname@example.org or (317) 370-4974. Thank you for considering this important opportunity.