Theology Crawl Discussion Guide - Food Insecurity

July 18, 2023

Welcome to Theology Crawl

Yes, being in a conversation with drinks is fun, but we need some guidelines as you enter into conversation with one another:

Everyone is not right, and that's a good thing.

The concepts we talk about in theology can have multiple interpretations, but that doesn't mean they're all right. A lot of theology is investigating the words we use to see if they make sense and are if they're adequate for God. Being wrong is how we improve our theology, not by having all the answers.

Pay attention to how people are using words.

We all use words like “love,” “God,” and “grace,” but the the reality is we often mean vastly different things. Try to listen to how people use words and if they're using them the same way you would.

Ask for people to define what they mean.

We can't have a good conversation if we are all talking past each other. It's not embarrassing to ask people for a definitional a new word or concept, it's just how you have a good conversation.

Make this work for you.

Have someone in the group keep an eye on the questions and try to make sure you're staying on topic. At the same time, it's fine to go down the rabbit holes. Sometimes, the rabbit holes can help us clarify something that we missed.

Have fun.

You won't solve world hunger, you probably won't even convince that person in the group you disagree with. Relax, be respectful, and when the questions run out, enjoy yourself and talk about something that isn't theological. Hanging out can actually be pretty important for good theology too!

Starting Question

  • Have you ever met with someone who missed a meal?


  • What is Food Insecurity? The National Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion defines it as a  limited or uncertain access to adequate food due to household-level economic and social conditions. In 2020, 13.8 million households were food insecure at some time during the year. Recent data show that food insecurity rates have been inching closer to the high we saw at the onset of the pandemic. Approximately, 19.2% of all households in MA reported food insecurity in March 2023. Factors that may impact food insecurity include: income, employment, race/ethnicity, and disability.
  • What programs are available for individuals? Some programs that address barriers to accessing healthy food include: the National School Lunch Program (NSLP); the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program; the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and local food pantries.
  • Food Insecurity disproportionately impacts communities of color. In 2020, Black non-Hispanic households were over 2 times more likely to be food insecure than the national average (21.7 percent versus 10.5 percent, respectively). Among Hispanic households, the prevalence of food insecurity was 17.2 percent compared to the national average of 10.5 percent. Two potential factors influencing these disparities may include neighborhood conditions, physical access to food, and lack of transportation.
  • Despite more food-insecure adults accessing food assistance programs, the reasons food-insecure adults did not access food pantries and/or SNAP benefits echoed the findings of the previous year. A desire for self-sufficiency remained a hindrance to SNAP use, with 75 percent of those surveyed agreeing that they would prefer to support themselves instead of using SNAP. Additional barriers to participation include concerns about eligibility (70 percent), taking benefits from those who need it more (64 percent), and embarrassment (58 percent).
  • The inconveniences of food pantry use pose unique challenges, especially for individuals and families with low incomes. Transportation is a key obstacle, as 2 out of 3 pantry users rely on transportation other than their own car.
  • Prior to the pandemic, household food insecurity in Massachusetts was at 8.2%. The coronavirus pandemic fueled a hunger crisis unlike any other in our lifetime, at its peak rendering 19.6% of households food insecure.  Recent data show that food insecurity rates have been inching closer to the high we saw at the onset of the pandemic. Approximately, 19.2% of all households in MA reported food insecurity in March 2023.
  • Recent trends show that food insecurity among households with children in Massachusetts is trending upwards from the low we saw in April 2021 when families were receiving a whole host of federal and state level benefits. Recently rates have been fluctuating between 19% to 22%, and as of early March 2023, an estimated 22.2% of households with children are facing food insecurity. The rising costs of housing and other basic needs, like food, are factors that can likely be attributed to the rising rates of food insecurity. ​

Discussion Questions

  • What are some common misconceptions or stereotypes about food insecurity that you've come across?
  • Are you aware of any instances of food insecurity in your local community? How do you think it affects the people living there?
  • Are there any specific groups or populations that you believe are particularly vulnerable to food insecurity? Why do you think that is?
  • Do you think there are any cultural or social barriers that prevent individuals or communities from seeking help for food insecurity? How can we overcome those barriers?
  • Are there any personal experiences or stories related to food insecurity that have impacted you or changed your perspective?
  • Break up into smaller groups. Here is a list of proposed organizations around Food Insecurity that Reunion is considering partnering with:
  1. Community Cooks
  2. Community Servings
  3. Food Link
  4. Eastie Farm
  5. Groundwork Somerville
  6. Fresh Truck
  • Do some brief research on the organization. How is this organization addressing food insecurity?

Important Scripture

  • 6 “Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? 7 Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter— when you see the naked, to clothe them, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood? // Isa. 58:6–7
  • 19 When you are harvesting in your field and you overlook a sheaf, do not go back to get it. Leave it for the foreigner, the fatherless and the widow, so that the LORD your God may bless you in all the work of your hands. 20 When you beat the olives from your trees, do not go over the branches a second time. Leave what remains for the foreigner, the fatherless and the widow. 21 When you harvest the grapes in your vineyard, do not go over the vines again. Leave what remains for the foreigner, the fatherless and the widow. 22 Remember that you were slaves in Egypt. That is why I command you to do this. // Deut. 24:19–22
  • 11 John answered, “Anyone who has two shirts should share with the one who has none, and anyone who has food should do the same.// Luke 3:11
  • 41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’ 44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’ 45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me. // Matt. 25:41–45

Further Readings and Resources


The Reunion Team

We are a church who helps people discover Jesus, become like Jesus, and do what Jesus did. Together we want to help all of the greater Boston area to experience the transformative love of Jesus.

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