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March 20, 1998     The Message
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March 20, 1998

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10 The Message -- for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana Nutritionist: Hunger affects health, By NANCY HARTNAGEL Catholic News Service WASHINGTON (CNS) -- "One can- not help but be shaken by the Second Harvest data," said a nutritionist dis- cussing a new survey on U.S. hunger and its effect on health and on human cognition. "We're using food pantries and soup kitchens to feed 26 million people," said Dr. J. Larry Brown, director of the Center on Hunger, Poverty and Nutrition Poli- cy at Tufts University in Medford, Mass. "I wonder if we are not a little bit more like Sudan than we ever imagined." Brown's comments came during a press conference held March 10 in Washington -- at which a landmark study was released. Titled "Hunger 1997: The Faces and Facts," it was commissioned by Second Harvest, the nationwide network of 186 community food banks, and based on per- sonal interviews researchers conducted with nearly 28,000 clients of food pantries, soup kitchens and emergency shelters. The survey found that 26 million low- hen an elderly woman goes hungry.., her hunger is a stow death income people, including vulnerable women, children and the elderly, were served through the Second Harvest net- work last year. Of that total, 21 million sought emergency food assistance at food pantries, soup kitchens and shelters. "Have we not lost our way, when in the midst of unparalleled prosperity, hunger continues unabated?" asked Brown, who also is a professor of nutri- tion and health policy at Tufts. Well over half the people fed through the Second Harvest network are children and the elder136 he said. "What would we say about any other nation that makes its young and old suffer the indignity of wandering the streets in search of a bag of food?" he asked. ,lt He said 40 percent of families fed on an emergency basis have an employed head of household. "What is the message here to people who work hard and play By NANCY HARTNAGEL by the rules, and still watch their loved Catholic News Service ones go hungry," he wondered. "When an elderly woman goes hungry," WASHINGTON (CNS) The faces said Brown, "from a medical perspective, of hungry Americans come into focus her hunger is a slow death sentence .... i in a comprehensive survey from Sec- Hunger makes the elderly sick more often. It makes them less able to recover from their illnesses. And it makes them more likely to succumb at an early age." He described what can happen to the fetus of a pregnant mother who goes without adequate nutrition. "This fetus is more likely to spontaneously abort, much more likely to be born too early, much less likely to live, and many times more likely to suffer physical and cog- nitive impairments," he said. "When a preschool girl goes hungry, even for a relatively short period of time, her brain function is compro- mised," he said, noting that she cannot acquire or process knowledge. "When a first-grade little boy goes hungry, his ears do not hear what other ears hear.. . And his mind can- not work the way that nature has organized it to work." Brown said, "Sci- ence now knows that sentence, by letting children go hungry, we literally rob them of their God-given potential. We produce man-made impairments in otherwise beautiful and capable children. "Most of them will not catch up," he added He said the scholarly community knows a great deal about the direct con- sequences of hunger, but cannot explain recent huge cuts in food stamps or "the lack of moral leadership" that allowed such cuts. Brown said he believes the limiting factor "is human frailty, the frailty of a president and Congress too preoccupied with political victories to make hunger the one certain thing, the one certain problem, our nation could end." Survey identifies who is hungry in ond Harvest, a national network of 186 i community food banks. Following personal interviews with nearly 28,000 clients of food pantries, soup i kitchens and emergency shelters, the hun- i gry turn out to be predominantly women and children, increasingly older and large- ly undereducated, with more than half ' working, retired or disabled. For "Hunger 1997: The Faces and Facts," Second Harvest commissioned an independent research firm to survey clients at thousands of foodprograms operated by agencies that use regional food banks. The surve conducted dur- ing the first quarter of 1997, was released March 10 in Washington. The landmark research study revealed the following about people seeking charitable food assistance: -- 62 percent are female; 38 percent, i male. m 38 percent are 17 or younger; 16 percent are 65 or older. -- 47 percent are white; 32 percent, African-American; 15 percent, Hispanic. 27 percent live in rural areas; 26 percent, in cities of fewer than 100,000 people; the rest, in more populous cities and suburbs. ' 40 percent have less than a high school diploma or equivalent; only 5 percent have college degrees. 67 percent have an annual house- hold income of less than $10,000; 15 percent, less than $15,000. 33 percent of their households are single-parent households. 24 percent have no stove for cook- ins. 16 percent are homeless; 5 percent have marginal housing; 35 percent have to choose between buying food or pay- ing rent. With respect to emergency food clients: -- 37 percent percent work; another disabled; 12 Of the have been years; percent, for less than 3 -- Of the full-time jobs; 42 time jobs. --_ 43 percent have percent have no car, both working and Many emergency fall back on additional help: -- 41 percent and th( stamps 26 percent ty benefits; 31 tal food through and Children WIC. --64 lunch and percent participate -- 24 percent efits, while 40 aid. Regarding food clients: :' 7- 28 percent dld not have enou buy food. In percent the same 36 household -- 40 cent are cost. -- Among The Secret's Out Mother Teresa and Natural Family Planni An audience of 4,000 people, including President and Mrs. Clinton, attended one of Mother Teresa's most famous addresses to the people of the United States at the Washington Prayer Break- fast Feb. 3, 1994. Mother Teresa strongly urged Americans to practice Natural Family Planning. News and Commentary By SOOZI SCHELLER Contributing Writer Mother Teresa stated, "In destroying the power of giving life through contraception a husband or wife is doing some- thing to self and so destroys the gift of love in him or her. In lov- ing, the husband and wife must turn the attention to each other, as happens in natural family plarmJng.. " Natural Eamily Planrdn allows the total giving of one- self in marriage. Wherever she went, Mother Teresa actively promoted Natur- al Family Planning (NFP). Each of her Missionaries of Charity is trained to teach Natural Family Planning. She wrote of her work in NFP to the then Prime Minis- ter of India, Morarji Desai, on March 26, )979: "In Calcutta alone at the pre- sent time, we run 102 centers where spouses are taught natur- al birth control that supports love for one another and for their cbi_ldren_ h. the last years 11,701 Hindu families, 5,568 Muslim families, and 4,341 Christian families have made use of our natural family planning centers. A total of 21,610 families--think- ing of themselves, their children and their country--have con- tributed to decreasing the popu- lation.., without killing anyone. .. I hope that God showers his blessings upon all the children of India and upon us." Mother Teresa held to .the teaching of the Catholic Church and its wisdom concerning the family by stating clearly that NFP is a very important way of expressing love in marriage. By offering NFP services in India and other places, Mother Teresa and the Missionaries of Chari- ty show us that NFP helps mar- ried couples reach their family goals in a positive way. For Two studies from India with one c large numbers of couples involved St. testify to NFP's effecfivenesdin avoiding pregnancy. For instance, a 1978-79 study of 3,275 couples 485-4110 using NFP to avoid pregnancy over a full year shows a 100 per- Heal cent effectiveness rate. A more ty recent study published in the Jas Journal of British Medicine involv- 852-7295. ins 19,843 couples in Calcutta shows a 99.6 percent method effectiveness rate. NFP I 882-5688, ""'"'n ST. MA medical news from a Catholic perspective is Heal.rh a courtesy of Services i