Episode 7: Enlighten Me on What Poverty Really Is and How to Address It
Salt and Light Ministry started as a food pantry and clothing closet and turned into a community effort with monumental impacts. When Nathan Montgomery and his colleagues started Salt and Light, they thought they would be able to meet their communities largest needs by giving free handouts of food and clothing. After years of seeing the same faces returning over and over again for help, Nate recognized that what they were doing was not making a sustainable, lasting impact on the lives of those they were serving, and instead was only perpetuating cycles of poverty and charity needs.
Sine their launch in 2004, Nate has learned A LOT about what poverty in the western world really is, and also what it is not. Poverty is not necessarily the lack of physical things, but rather the lack of opportunities. An important piece of the puzzle in talking about poverty is also hunger, or what could more appropriately be called food insecurity. Much different than we hear about in other parts of the world, in the United States there isn’t a physical shortage of food, however there is a lack of adequate, healthy food options for those with less financial means. Understanding the context of these problems is the first step in knowing how to address them, and in this episode Nate does an awesome job of explaining what’s going on in the U.S. and addressing the presumptions that most of us have about these topics. Even more, he explains how Salt and Light revamped their model to be able to better tackle the issues of poverty and hunger in the local community. Between one impactful book and one crazy reality TV show appearance, Salt and Light was a new and improved community stakeholder by 2014.
Practically speaking, Nate gives us a lot to think about for how we can be a part of seeing poverty eradicated. The most important part of this is in recognizing how to treat people. As Nate states, giving handouts and making people out to be victims is extremely disempowering and often times shame-producing for them. The model that Nate presents, on the other hand, is effective in building self-esteem, pride, and affirmation in one’s self and their abilities. Hearing Nate explain privilege and opportunity, challenge the stereotypes of those who are affected by poverty, and talk about how we are not so different from those who are in need is truly eye-opening. You will be inspired by Nate’s passion and drive, and hearing Salt and Light’s approach with the social entrepreneurship model they offer will have you wanting to be a part of moving people OUT of poverty. Oh, and not to mention, feeling like this worldwide issue isn’t so big and scary of a thing to tackle after all.
If nothing else, I think Nate and I’s conversation will help you to gain some much needed perspective. Perspective – it’s something we all need, and something we can never get enough of. You might have to listen to this episode a few times to really pick up on all the things we cover, but it will only take you once to agree that Nate should be running for some kind of office.
Salt and Light:
When Helping Hurts by Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert:
Montgomery Family on Extreme Makeover: Home Edition: https://youtu.be/VHH3V094IO8
USDA definition/measurement of food insecurity:
Give Me Your Eyes by Brandon Heath:
Living on One Dollar documentary:
Connect with Nathan:
Access the latest episode here!