Cultural Encounters: A Journal For The Theology Of Culture Volume 11 Number 2 (Summer 2016) - Page 35

VOLUME 11, NUMBER 2 A JOURNAL FOR THE THEOLOGY OF CULTURE 1. Natural Resources and Environment (NRE) We are responsible for the national forest system. Our colleges at the Department of the Interior run the national parks, but just up the road is the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. There’s the Olympic National Forest in addition to the national park. That’s about 193 million acres of our public good in the national forest system. And the way it works out is about half of the water we drink originates in forested lands, much of which is in the national forest system. That’s one of the things that happens because of the Department of Agriculture, because of the folks who work there and are paid as public servants thanks to what we just provided on April 15. Another part of Natural Resources and Environment is working with private land owners. They do some work with state and private forestry, too. But the Natural Resources Conservation Service works with private land owners. They can provide technical assistance and come up with conservation plans. They can provide funding for hoop houses to address the growing season: extending it. So that’s number one. 2. Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services Part of these services is MyPlate, which is learning about nutrition, providing those partnership opportunities. But the biggest part of the entire Department of Agriculture, not in terms of people but in terms of money, is the nutrition assistance programs that we provide. One out of four of our brothers and sisters in the United States of America depends on one of USDA’s programs to help put food on the table. The biggest is what was the Food Stamp Program, now Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP. But that provides an average of a little more than $1.50 a meal. And we have about forty-six million of our brothers and sisters who depend on that to have enough to eat. You might have read recently or at least seen online that Gwyneth Paltrow did a SNAP challenge. Others have done this too. She got a lot of flak; she didn’t succeed, and she makes a little more money than most SNAP recipients. But more people are talking about it thanks to her gimmick. There’s the Special Supplemental Nutritional Program called the WIC for Women, Infants, and Children that my goddaughters depend on to make sure they have enough to eat as kids. School lunch and breakfast: it’s all there. One program that I would love for you to think about and maybe 32