A Handout or a Hand Up?

All of us at Agape Meals for Kids firmly believe that supporting those in need is not only a moral obligation but also an action that benefits the entire community. We fulfill this obligation by providing backpacks of food for children who are likely to have little or no food over the weekends. Other groups and individuals do so in many different and beautiful ways.

Unfortunately, some people hold the misguided belief that helping those in need fosters dependency and discourages self-sufficiency. In reality, providing support and assistance creates an environment that allows people to move out of poverty and into a more stable and fulfilling life. And in the United States, we are at the place where helping others can literally be the difference between life and death.

We want to dispel the myth that supporting those in need leads to dependency. While it’s true that some individuals may require ongoing support, such as those with disabilities or chronic illnesses, most people only need temporary assistance to get back on their feet. Providing support to those who are struggling can help them get the resources they need to become self-sufficient and contribute to society.

In the case of providing food for children, helping means removing some of the stress of poverty and allowing them to focus on school, playing, and being a child instead of being consumed with hunger.

Helping people in need benefits the entire community. When people have their basic needs met, they are more available to contribute to their communities and move away from the exhausting and all-consuming requirements that come with not having enough to survive. They can focus on their education or job training, which can lead to better employment opportunities and higher wages. And people who receive support are more likely to spend money in their local community, which boosts the local economy and creates jobs.

Inequality and poverty are linked, and when we address poverty, we also address inequality.

Supporting those in need is not just the right thing to do morally; it’s also an investment in our future. When we invest in people, we invest in our communities and our future. Children who grow up in poverty are less likely to succeed in life, which can lead to a less prosperous and less stable society. By investing in the success of those in need, we are creating a brighter future for everyone.

There are many social programs that have proven to create lasting change for those who benefit. It’s frustrating to see the continued rolling back of these programs (the most recent being the changes to the SNAP program) when we know what a difference they make. Here are just five examples:

  1. The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC): The EITC is a federal tax credit for low-income working families that’s been shown to be one of the most effective anti-poverty programs in the US. The credit has helped lift millions of families out of poverty and has been linked to improved child health and education outcomes.

  2. The Housing First program: This program provides stable housing to individuals experiencing homelessness and has been shown to be highly effective in reducing homelessness and improving health outcomes. A study found that participants in the program experienced significant improvements in mental and physical health, and a decrease in substance abuse.

  3. The Harlem Children’s Zone: This program is a comprehensive approach to supporting children and families in a specific neighborhood in New York City. The program provides a range of services, including early childhood education, after-school programs, and family support services. Research has shown that children who participated in the program had higher rates of high school graduation and college enrollment, and were less likely to be involved in the criminal justice system.

  4. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP): SNAP provides food assistance to low-income individuals and families in the US. Studies have shown that the program reduces food insecurity and poverty, and improves health outcomes.

  5. The Nurse-Family Partnership program: Provides home visiting services to low-income, first-time mothers. The program has been shown to improve maternal and child health outcomes, and has been linked to improved school readiness and educational outcomes for children.

Supporting those in need is not a handout, but a hand up. It’s the morally and humanity-based right thing to do. Providing support and resources to those who are struggling creates an environment that allows people to move out of poverty and into a more stable and fulfilling life. It benefits the entire community by fostering productivity, boosting the local economy, promoting equity and justice, and investing in our collective future. It provides children the opportunity to grow, learn, and develop and can literally change the entire trajectory of their lives for the better. Let’s work together to support those in need and build a better society for everyone.