What if I told you that the entire population of Tarrant County was living below the poverty level? Well it is not, but 1.8 million Texas children under 18 , slightly more than the Tarrant County population, are. I find it incredible, I find it shocking and shameful that more than one of every four of our children is living in poverty.
Of course that is only the tip of the iceberg. Those children are just part of the 4.3 million Texans living below the poverty level. What is the poverty level? According to Federal Guidelines it is $10,830 a year for a single person and $22,050 for a family of four.
Texas has the sixth highest poverty rate in the nation.
Food banks are struggling. Catholic Charities has had close to 40,000 calls for assistance and have had resources to handle only ten percent.
People are responding. Catholic Charities food pantries that were down to only a few cans earlier in the summer have been restocked by an emergency food drive. Because of the generosity of people more than 800 additional people were fed.
A part of the problem is that often times those in poverty are invisible. They are not necessarily on street corners, they are our neighbors who have lost a job and been out of work for six months or a year. Catholic charities officials tell us that for many of these people it is very difficult to seek assistance.
It is not just A problem; it is not THEIR problem, it is OUR problem. We each must help through our parish, through St. Vincent de Paul Society, through Catholic Charities, through person-to-person help. Not soon, but now. If not now, when? If not you, who?
I am writing this on the feast of St. Matthew who reminded us of Jesus words:
‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or ill or in prison, and not minister to your needs?’ He will answer them, ‘Amen, I say to you, what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me.’ Matt: 25