Bloomberg: Verdict Is In: Food Stamps Put Poor Kids on Path to Success

One of the things that compelled me to write Radical Charity is that I kept seeing two narratives about charity. On the one hand, there were the charity skeptics, arguing that charity and welfare hurt their recipients. These skeptics argue that doing for others what they could (or should) do for themselves erodes work ethics, fosters a sense of entitlement, and contributes to the dependency of the people who get assistance. On the other hand, there were researchers in a variety of fields studying the actual effects of charitable giving and welfare programs. And these researchers were discovering that when people are struggling, giving them what they need works.

The charity skeptics already have a big platform, and their ideas are being implemented by churches, nonprofit organizations, and governments. So I started collecting stories about charitable programs that worked. I didn’t want those stories to be buried in academic papers while charity skeptics’ arguments were in popular books.

And here’s another one. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, often referred to by its old name: food stamps) really does help people, and has an especially positive effect on children up to age five.

You can read the article at Bloomberg here. I usually try to avoid linking to articles behind pay walls, but this pay wall is pretty soft. There’s just an article limit.

Read the whole thing. And, if you can, read the original article. But the summary is simple: access to nutritional programs as an adult leads to better health, higher education, and lower reliance on benefit programs as an adult. Investments in low-income children—and that means investments in low-income families—make lives better. Food stamps work.

Right now, there is a movement in churches and nonprofits arguing that charity is toxic, that helping hurts, and that the entire nonprofit sector needs to be reformed to truly lift people out of poverty. These charity skeptics are telling Christians that traditional charity deepens dependency, fosters a sense of entitlement, and erodes the work ethic of people who receive it. Charity skepticism is increasingly popular; and it is almost certainly wrong.

Now available from Wipf and Stock’s Cascade Books imprint, Radical Charity: How Generosity Can Save the World (And the Church) weaves together research and scholarship on topics as diverse as biblical scholarship, Christian history, economics, and behavioral psychology to tell a different story. In this story, charity is the heart of Christianity and one of the most effective ways that we can help people who are living in poverty. Charity—giving to people experiencing poverty without any expectation of return or reformation—can save the world and help make God’s vision for the church a reality.

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