>”Are there no prisons…and the union workhouses? Are they still in operation…The treadmill and Poor Law are in full vigour?” –Scrooge, A Christmas Carol

I overheard part of a conversation this week regarding donating to charity. The two folks in question were talking about the food stamp program and how unfair it was that they were forced to subsidize “deadbeats”. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program has its roots in the late 1930s as a way to provide food assistance to individuals on the margin. Over time the program has been mocked and berated, trotted out as an example of useless government spending, and generally viewed as something unpleasant.

In the middle of all the back and forthing, people forget what the program was designed to target. Hunger. America is not a poor nation. Yet we find people all over the country are going hungry. As the economy has gotten worse, more and more Americans are forgoing meals. This past year 1 in 7 Americans are going without food.

Think about that for a minute. Pull away all the rhetoric and back and forth. Look at the people you are sitting around. Count seven people. One of those seven people has odds on missed meals. That’s a staggering statistic. We as a nation are starting to approach numbers that you find in some parts of the Third World.

It’s easy to assume that these people are “deadbeats”. It’s easy for those of us who can pull together our daily meals to mock the people we see in line at a food bank or using a food stamp card. Some of us may say, “well I worked my way out of poverty, so those folks need to get it in gear and do something. It’s not my job.”

Since when is compassion not the job of EVERY citizen?

One of the greatest gifts you get from changing your health and fitness is the ability to give back. Because you feel so much better, because you can do so much more, it’s possible to give in a variety of ways. You can give money to causes you believe in. You can donate canned goods or product to local charity. You can also donate your time.

This year think about that 1 in 7 Americans who face hunger on a daily basis. Consider this year donating time or goods to your local food bank. Feed America provides information on local food banks in your area. You can volunteer to pack boxes, or volunteer to help deliver goods.

It’s a couple of hours out of your life that will make a difference for someone. Remember that down the road it may make a difference for YOU.