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Fasting on First Fridays

July 25, 2011

By Sister Rose Marie

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) invites each of us to experience first-hand what it’s like to live without enough food.

As part of “First Fridays for Food Security,” the USCCB is requesting that on the first Friday of each month you spend only as much for food as allotted in the U.S. Department of Agriculture Modified Thrifty Food Plan, which is used for determining benefits under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly called Food Stamps).

The weekly food budget for a couple with two children, aged 2-5, for example, would be $120.20. That would work out to about $17.70 for one day of meals for a family of that size receiving SNAP benefits.

For many families, cutting back like this for First Fridays will constitute a form of fasting.

“This is a norm for people who are poor,” says Sister of Mercy Associate Carolyn Bergman, director of Saint Michael’s Outreach Ministry in Gastonia, N. C. “Summers are especially difficult for families with children because during the school year the children receive breakfast and lunch at school.”

In addition to participating in First Fridays, please consider contacting your legislators to urge them to reduce the federal deficit in a way that protects from spending cuts programs such as SNAP that low-income individuals and families rely on.

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