Archbishop Lori: For elected leaders, poverty is 'out of sight, out of mind'

Fifty million Americans — one out of every six people, including one in five children — do not know the source of their next meal. And based on the recent actions of our elected officials, it seems "out of sight, out of mind" is their solution to a hunger and poverty problem that only looks to get worse.

While Congressional leaders discuss versions of a Farm Bill, all of which cut the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as food stamps, members of Baltimore's City Council are preparing to vote on an ordinance that would criminalize panhandling at some outdoor establishments and other specified locations in the city.

Both federal and local actions threaten to underscore, and at the same time ignore, the staggering poverty in our city and our nation, a poverty we cannot and should not pretend does not exist.

In his World Food Day message, Pope Francis said, "It is a scandal that there is still hunger and malnutrition in the world" and called for a "just and lasting solution."

Instead of debating ways to make invisible those of our sisters and brothers who are hungry, our elected leaders should be working on solutions that end hunger. Until then, our churches will continue to fill the void by working with each other and with secular organizations so hungry people can not only be recognized but also fed at places like Our Daily Bread and other programs of Catholic Charities, which served 370,000 hot meals last year — up from 247,000 just five years ago.

William E. Lori, Baltimore

The writer is archbishop of Baltimore.

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