calendar January 4, 2011 in Congregations

Feast of Justice Highlighted in Inquirer

The Feast of Justice feeding ministry at St. John’s, Mayfair, is highlighted in a Jan. 3 Philadelphia Inquirer article on poverty in the lower Northeast, which over the last 10 years had the largest increase in the number of people living below the poverty line of any section of the city.

Here is the opening of the article by Inquirer writers Michael Matza and John Duchneskie:

Awake at 4 a.m., Rodney Walker dressed for a bitter-cold morning and scrambled to be first in line at Feast of Justice, the free food cupboard inside St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church in the Lower Northeast.

Exhausted by the stress of needing handouts to feed his family, the 57-year-old part-time security guard set his cell phone to chirp every hour so he wouldn’t fall into deep sleep in line. By the time the doors opened at 9 on a recent day, more than 150 unemployed, retired, or working-poor residents of the brick rowhouse neighborhoods near the church were assembled behind him, enveloped in clouds of frozen breath.

To be sure, there are much poorer parts of Philadelphia. Average household income here is about $50,000. In Fairhill, Philadelphia’s poorest section, about five miles southwest, average annual income is just under $18,000.

But the Oxford Circle/Castor-Tacony/Wissinoming-Mayfair swath of the Lower Northeast, formerly one of the city’s most stable sections, had the greatest increase in the percentage of people living in poverty over the last decade – up a whopping 110 percent since 1999, according to U.S. Census Bureau data released in December.