There are too many things that I love about where I live (Missouri) to name, but here are a few:
I love how the seasons change, even though I don’t love winter, I would never appreciate the first warm days of spring without it.
I love the beauty of the rolling hills and farmland that surrounds quiet little towns.
I love how the clean rivers rush over my feet while I sit in the sun and read.
I love that I can send my children outside to play for hours, not wondering if they will be lured by gangs or drug dealers in our quiet little neighborhood.
These are just a few of the things that I love about living in rural Missouri, however, there are some things that I don’t love so much….
I don’t love how our region which is nestled in the bible belt continues to fail in caring for the least of these. In the name of Christianity.
The 8th congressional district is considered among the poorest in the United States, and is the poorest in Missouri. This district is home to the poorest counties… Some of which have SNAP (food stamp) eligibility of 50% or more. If you are born in Oregon, Shannon, or Howell county there is approximately a 50/50 chance that you will be born into generational poverty.
Generational poverty refers to families who have lived in poverty for more than 2 generations. Situational poverty exists when a middle class family falls upon difficult financial times due to circumstances like illness or divorce (Payne, 2013). The rate of generational poverty in the state of Missouri is high. According to the Missouri hunger atlas, counties in the 8th district score very high in the area of hunger, compared to other regions in our state.
According to Jordan Browning , Ozarks food harvest SNAP coordinator, Missouri ranks in the top 5 states in the nation of being difficult to apply for and receive benefits that help alleviate hunger. He also said in a recent presentation that over 1million dollars per year gets returned back to the federal government in undistributed SNAP dollars. Yes you read correctly, our state isn’t distributing all of the funding available to Missouri citizens.
The tax rates in Missouri are fairly low. Which is what makes Missouri a great place to live…. If you make a lot of money. However, if you are one of the families that suffer from generational poverty, your likelihood of escaping poverty isn’t promising as of today.
Our current state legislators are more concerned with protecting the wealthy than with allowing the federal government to care for those who are less fortunate. The saddest of all is the fact that so many citizens do not realize the benefits that the Missouri legislature has refused to use therefore continuing to put the health, education, and overall well being of Missourians into jeopardy. This is often done in the name of Christianity.
Year after year, the same folks who have put our state into an embarrassing economic situation are elected and re-elected. In my lifetime, I have watched as the poorest counties slip farther and farther into the grips of poverty. The children become harder to educate. Mothers become tired of trying, and fathers slip further away from their family units.
Folks, it’s time to do something different in Missouri. Following the same path that we have for the past 35 years, isn’t working and doesn’t make sense. It is time for voters and citizens to speak up in Missouri for legislation that promotes a better quality of life for the “least of these”. Throughout the new testament, Jesus gives examples of helping the poor and most vulnerable. Are we really electing individuals in the name of Christianity, when little is being done to educate, feed, and keep our most vulnerable healthy? Don’t be deceived. If you are a Christian educate yourself on how to help the “least of these” in our state. Missouri.
Payne, R. K. (2013). A framework for understanding poverty: A cognitive approach. Highland, TX: Aha!