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Welcome to the reflections page – please click on the bolded blue reflection following each participant’s name to read their SNAP Challenge daily entries
Main SNAP Challenge reflections page (click here)
Mehtab Singh Bajwa – Member, Sikh Foundation of CNY; Member, InterFaith Works Round Table of Faith Leaders reflection
Beth A. Broadway - InterFaith Works Executive Director: reflection
Rev. William C. Redfield – Convener of InterFaith Works Round Table of Faith Leaders; Trinity Episcopal Church: reflection
Madalyn Smith – Rangrig Yeshe, Dzogchen Ati Ling Center: reflection
Rev. Dr. Tiffany Steinwert – Hendricks Chapel, Syracuse University: reflection
Mehtab Singh Bajwa
My objective is to increase public and self-awareness about hunger. By trying to live on a small food budget I hope to gain more insight into some of the challenges faced by the hungry. This can lead to healthier lifestyle changes with reduction of waste, and greater availability of resources for the hungry.
Beth A. Broadway
My dad died unexpectedly in the summer of 1963, when I was ten years old, leaving our family of five children to the care of his wife, now widow. She was a stay-at-home mom, and our home came along with his job. So not only did we have to adjust to the shock of and grief about his death, but we had to move, and she had to figure out what to do with pre-school aged children while she went looking for a job. She was trained as a secretary, and was fiercely loyal to her family, so she did what it took to keep us together and to provide for us. I don’t remember a time when we had no food, but I do remember stretching one box of fish sticks and a can of pears to feed the six of us. There were 10 fish sticks in a box – we each got a full one and a part of another. I remember wanting two whole ones.
Today, unlike my mother had to do, I don’t have to think much about my food budget. I can buy organic vegetables and oranges in the middle of winter even when the prices are up. I can choose a simple, low-meat diet as a matter of choice, not of necessity. I worship at St. Lucy’s and see the people lining up to access our food pantry early, before services, even though the doors don’t open for another hour. Some of my family members now continue to be eligible for food stamps. And I serve on the local FEMA Board, distributing the federal dollars that come into our community to the various organizations charged with providing food for hungry people. These agencies report a 35% increase in local demand for food, at the same time the FEMA money was cut 30%. Witnessing that disparity changed my grocery shopping habits. I now buy an extra bag of high protein foods (tuna, peanut butter, whole wheat pasta, or brown rice) and extra cans of vegetables along with a treat, like a jar of jam, to give away.
Taking the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Challenge as a part of the Round Table of Faith Leaders is a personal challenge and a public statement for me. Eating foods equaling $33.60 per week not only reminds me of the childhood years when I worried constantly that there wasn’t enough, but it makes me confront my current station in life when I have enough to be able to share. I cannot personally stem the tide of hunger that faces our nation, our world, our community. My small gifts to the hungry people of our community are not enough. But I also cannot ignore the needs of so many and do nothing. And so I do what I can. The SNAP Challenge is part of that.
There is a systemic problem with many complex parts that creates hunger and poverty for so many. Together we must look at the on-going divides of people who have “not enough” and people who have “too much.” These divisions hurt us spiritually. These divisions weaken us as a people. These divisions create injustices that lead to a poverty of our democracy that rivals the poverty of any one family. Together we got into this mess, and only together will we get out of it.
Rev. William C. Redfield
I am looking forward to participating in this collective action of mindfulness. I see here the very real possibility of deepening many connections – our relationship with our being and the food we put in our mouths; the connection between those who have more than enough resources, including food, and those who do not; the connection among those of us representing our various religious traditions who sit around the Round Table of Faith Leaders and Representatives; and the connection between sustainability and abject vulnerability. While I sense this will be a challenge for me on many levels, I am inspired by my interfaith friends and welcome the opportunity to be in solidarity of purpose with them.
Rev. Peter Shidemantle
The biggest issue I’ve had with food is not to eat too much of the wrong things. I need to feel something of how it is for those who have to struggle with having enough to eat, period.
I am participating in the Hunger Project as a member of the Round Table of Interfaith Leaders representing Rangrig Yeshe of Syracuse, a Tibetan Buddhist Contemplative Group. It is an honor to be able to join my friends on the Round Table in this opportunity to understand and draw attention to the issues of poverty and hunger in our society that need to be addressed more completely.