In Jensen: A National Model For Feeding The Needy


In November 2013 $39 million in SNAP Benefits will be cut for all Americans. It is expected that this decrease in benefits will cause “hardship” and “food insecurity.”

As of April 2013, more than 47 million Americans are receiving Food Stamps, also known as SUPPLEMENTAL NUTRITION ASSISTANCE PROGRAM (SNAP). (47,548,694 to be exact).

Compared with SNAP participation only five years ago, in 2008, which was 29 million, today’s numbers are remaining high because the job market continues to be weak.

The idea of food stamps arrived with Secretary of Agriculture Henry Wallace in May 1939. It ENDED in 1943 “since the conditions that brought the program into being—unmarketable food surpluses and widespread unemployment—no longer existed.”

Pastor Jerry Herald at work

Pastor Jerry Herald at work

President John F. Kennedy signed his first Executive Order, which called for expanded food distribution to fulfill a campaign promise. Since that time, the program has grown. April 1965 found 561,261 Americans on the rolls. By October 1974 the number had increased to 15 million.

Photo Credit: Kelly Jadon

Photo Credit: Kelly Jadon

After 2008, many industries in the country changed, affecting jobs. Layoffs were widespread. Although employment is up, the amount of new jobs which are part-time is 75%. In July 2013, 8.2 million Americans are in part-time employment, even though they would rather not be. Also rising are the costs of living-- food, the power bill, etc.. Part-time work will not pay all of the bills.

The key word for SNAP is “SUPPLEMENTAL.” These are not FULL benefits , but “in addition to.” The idea is that citizens are at work and purchasing the majority of their own food.

Volunteers at Bridge Christian Outreach

Volunteers at Bridge Christian Outreach

In November 2013 SNAP Benefits are expected to be cut for all. It is anticipated that this decrease in benefits will cause “hardship” and “food insecurity.” 23 million households (22 million children) in the United States will fall into these two circumstances. Approximately 10 million of the children already live in “deep poverty,” due to family income below half of the poverty line. 9 million others are disabled or elderly.

Scott, a volunteer  

Scott, a volunteer  

In August 2013, Chad Stone, Chief Economist, commented on the July Employment Report, “long-term unemployment remains a significant concern. Nearly two-fifths (37.0 percent) of the 11.5 million people who are unemployed — 4.2 million people — have been looking for work for 27 weeks or longer. These long-term unemployed represent 2.7 percent of the labor force.”

Carolyn L. Weaver of the Cato Institute has written about the care of the elderly and the poor prior to the Great Depression, in which it was primarily the responsibility of the private sector. Family, friends and neighbors “organized private charity.”

“There were no federal programs (other than veterans’ programs) to assist the poor, whether young or old, disabled or unemployed. The role of the government in preventing poverty through the provision of pensions and insurance was even more limited.”

Volunteers at Bridge Christian Outreach

Volunteers at Bridge Christian Outreach

As the United States transitions into more part-time employment buckled with higher costs of living, traditional methods of charity are being reestablished. One such organization which is a promising model for national use is The Bridge Christian Outreach Food Pantry located in Jensen Beach, Florida. Using extremely low overhead, local sources pool their resources to aid the needy from a two-county area. Under the non-denominational leadership of Pastor Jerry Herald, groceries are provided to over 200 poverty-stricken families. Three Fridays a month, frozen meat, fresh produce, baked goods, bread and canned products are trucked in and given out from a central location. No building is used for storage. Families arrive from surrounding towns—Stuart, Port St. Lucie, Fort Pierce and Jensen Beach (Martin and St. Lucie Counties).

Jerry Herald has this to say about his experience: “The face of today’s needy are many, but most are not homeless—they are marginalized. They are neighbors: men who have never been without work before but have been laid off, waitresses, part-time workers, single mothers, children, babies. These are the new poor. They are today’s widows and orphans.” Others have diseases, like cancer, and they hover on destitution’s doorstep--so ill they cannot work.

Pastor Jerry tells of a soldier, returned from Afghanistan with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). He has a wife and five children. There is not enough assistance from the VA to both pay the bills and purchase food.

Jerry Herald adds, “This part of our society makes life-struggling choices daily.”

Florida, a state hard hit in the economic crisis has 3,548,465 on SNAP. After November’s SNAP cut, an estimated 3,552,000 in Florida will be affected. That is 18% of the state’s population.

In Martin County, 59% of single mothers live in poverty, 29% of the children also do, and 5% of those over age 65 as well (2009 Census).

In neighboring St. Lucie County, the poverty rate is 20.3% for all ages, but climbs to 31.7% for children under age 18. (State of Florida 2011)

BackStory: Jerry Herald and his wife Evie moved to Florida in 2006 from Michigan. Before attending Concordia University, Jerry Herald was a Scout Sniper in the Marine Corps. A veteran, he finished his military duty as a Sergeant.

A humble man, Jerry Herald balks at interviews, but granted this one as he sees that the need to help more people is growing. Yet, as the pastor of this charity, Bridge Christian Outreach, he knows the people personally and can identify their needs. His work extends beyond the pantry: for example, to the hospital—where he has been a patient advocate.

“Bridge Christian Outreach never would have begun without Evie,” he adds. “She is the voice who saw the needy in Detroit several years ago, and spoke, ‘Let’s help.’” Their experience in the now bankrupt city prepared them for their work South Florida.

Pastor Jerry Herald at the food pantry handout

Pastor Jerry Herald at the food pantry handout

Bridge Christian Outreach has been meeting the needs of the marginalized for seven years. Tested by hurricanes, heat and cold, they have shown that they are here, to stay. As of now, 12 churches in the area offer various forms of assistance to Bridge Christian Outreach, as volunteers or by giving donations of food, money or grocery store gift cards. As the economic crunch continues, needs are expected to grow. 100% of all donations go directly to assist those in need.

No longer can the government be relied upon to take care of a town or city’s needy. Indeed, Pastor Jerry adds, “It is not the government’s function. Do what you can.”

This model functions with a food pantry as a central location—and three or four outreach locations within the town or city. Hot meals may be served at the outreaches. Needs may be addressed there too. Lay people may assist in these locations as well. The entire model operates at a minimal cost using dedicated volunteers based upon the Stephens Ministries concept.

Necessities: volunteers to organize food distribution and food (food banks, donations, etc)

Needed: volunteers as delivery couples, counselors, nurses on call, a dentist who will give discounted or free dental cleanings, a storage facility, just-picked produce, vitamins, baby food, over the counter medicines, diabetic supplies, free or reduced veterinarian visits, and even money.

For others who would just like to lend a listening ear to those who need help, there is training available through Stephens Ministries. It is a nationwide program.

The Bridge Christian Outreach operates out of the parking lot next to Jensen Beach Bowl.   Currently, there is great need for further help from the Treasure Coast community.

For more information, contact Pastor Jerry Herald Email

The Good News: Health Care At Martin Health System 2013-2017

Why Good News Matters In 2013

   © 2013 "Good News" Kelly Jadon


The Good News: Health Care At Martin Health System 2013-2017


Stuart--by Kelly Jadon

*A Sub Series—Part 1

Change is coming to the United States medical system.  It is an effort not just to bandaid the situation, but to renew it.  Economic drivers like rising costs of innovative pharmaceuticals, post modern technology and the Affordable Care Act (ACA) are fueling the overhaul.

What does this mean for citizens of South Florida in Martin and St. Lucie Counties?

As the medical system changes from a “sick care” system to one with more emphasis on “well care,” our culture will shift slightly.  Shifts in a part of the culture are not unusual, but medical care, hospitalization and wellness in the United States will affect everyone—seniors, youth, babies, children.  For readers in Martin and St. Lucie Counties, these welcome advances are already in process—medical care is expected to significantly improve.

Right now hospitals are in crisis.  The medical system is broken.  Health care costs have grown more rapidly than the rest of the U.S. economy during 32 of the last 40 years.  In 2010, health care cost the U.S. almost $2.6 trillion; in 2011 it reached $2.7 trillion; 2012 health care costs were expected to be $2.8 trillion and the largest contribution to U.S. debt.

Kaiser Education reports that the major factors in the rising costs of health care are: newer technology (US Congress) and prescription drugs, the growth of chronic disease due to longer life spans, the need for prevention, and administrative costs.

Each day, 10,000 U.S. citizens turn 65 and become eligible for Medicare.   This will continue for approximately 20 more years.    During 2012, 50 million people were on the rolls of Medicare.  Medicare cost the U.S. $551 billion and Medicaid $251 billion in 2012 (Congressional Budget Office).

Medicare costs are expected to continue to rise as more baby boomers join its ranks.  The same may be said for Medicaid, which will gain enrollees because of extended eligibility under the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

Medicare costs rely on a fee-for-service plan.  The Heritage Foundation’s Robert E. Moffit, Ph.D. and Alyene Senger report that this payment plan for physicians is unsustainable as it pushes costs high.  A physician is paid a fixed price per service given.  This method increases the number of services per patient.  Sometimes services are unnecessarily repeated.  Furthermore Moffit and Senger state, “Medicare's rising costs are unsustainable and have put the program's future in jeopardy. The Hospital Insurance Trust Fund is projected to be insolvent by 2024, and Medicare has a total long-term unfunded benefit obligation of $37 trillion.” Of the Federal Budget, Medicare is the most rapidly growing program due to baby boomer enrollment and rising health care costs.

Costs for hospitalization are increasing.  Have you ever visited the hospital, as a patient?  If you have, you’ve probably received a bill.  In 2010, the average length of stay in a hospital was 4.8 days (CDC). The cost of a typical hospital stay in 2010 was $9700.00 (Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality). 

Most interestingly, Medicare had the highest average cost per stay at $11,600.

The American Association for Justice reports that a rising tide of error within the medical system has made it the sixth biggest leading cause of death in the United States.  Do you know anyone who received the incorrect medicine in the hospital or who had the wrong part of his body operated on?  The Institute of Medicine found that approximately 98,000 people die every year as a result of medical errors.  The ensuing cost is estimated at $29 billion.

The Association of American Medical Colleges reports that there is a looming doctor shortage.  More medical school spots are needed for students.  However, there are residency placement shortages for training.   We need 10,000 new physicians in the United States.  The Affordable Care Act has only allowed for 300 more each year to be trained in residency programs which is funded by Medicare (GME).

Waste.  There are many kinds of waste in the medical system—time, the needless redundancy of duplicate tests, and the like.  This loss is estimated to be 30 percent.

Did you know that approximately 20 percent of discharged older patients return to the hospital in less than 30 days?  And did you know that Medicare will not cover this readmittance?  This costs the hospital money.  Dr. Peter Dayton of Martin Health System, gives the following example:  If a patient who has had a knee replacement returns to the hospital with a knee infection, the cost is $100,000.  The key:  Avoid the knee infection.

There is a lack of patient responsibility regarding compliance after hospitalization. Many patients who leave the hospital require medication, special diets, and rehabilitation.  Non-compliance usually lands them right back in a hospital bed.  This costs thousands of dollars which really are unnecessary expenditures.

Even worse, hospitals are closing or under financial strain.  Indian River Medical Center, a neighboring hospital, cut 50 positions due to “financial pressure on IRMC’s operating budget,” stated its President and CEO Jeff Susi.

There are many other issues in the medical world which are not visible to the general public. But because the medical system is in need of a major overhaul, positive changes are coming.

Dr. Stephen C. Schimpff, author of The Future of Health-Care Delivery (Potomac Books, 2012) writes that the changes will be disruptive, but they are necessary.  This will include the balancing of patients’ rights with their responsibilities and the necessary clarification of misconceptions.

Martin Health System, under the guidance of CEO Mark Robitaille and the Board, recognizes that the American health system could be functioning better.  It has begun to implement new programs using models from other hospitals which will provide better patient care with greater financial savings.

The Director of the implementation is long time Stuart resident Peter Dayton, M.D., F.A.C.O.G.  He is a Board Certified doctor who has delivered babies for 27 years and provided medical care to women for more than 28 years through his practice at Physicians To Women.  Dr. Dayton is on staff at Martin Memorial Hospital and he has most recently served as a Member of the Department of OB/GYN Quality Review Committee and is currently a member of the Martin Memorial Ethics Committee.

Dr. Dayton expects the implementation process will probably take three to four years to get up and running.

A concern many have is about the Affordable Care Act.  Dr. Stephen C. Schimpff states that there are currently 47 million without insurance or access to medical care.  “Health care reform is not about health care, but mostly about paying for it: providing medical care to the uninsured, eliminating some health insurance restrictions of consumers, and expanding coverage.”  It will add expenditures and not reduce costs and unlikely will reduce the cost of insurance and health care.

For example, 70% of all medical care expenditures in the United States is due to chronic disease. With today’s technology, patients are living longer.  Now, patients must become more responsible for their health.  This occurs in two ways; first, patients will be expected to assume higher deductibles and co-pays.  Second, their care will change, becoming better and more efficient.  No longer will a patient expect a referral from one doctor to another.  Instead, he or she will be given access to a team of physicians and other providers.  This team will work together for the good of the patient.  For example, there will be no need of duplicate tests, x-rays, etc…This results in higher quality, coordinated, integrated and less expensive care with better outcomes for the patient.

Dr. Dayton recommends that the public read Dr. Schimpff’s book The Future of Health-Care Delivery (Potomac Books, 2012). The book is written in layman’s language and helps the reader understand the current medical crisis and illuminates the coming changes.

Why Good News Matters In 2013

   © 2013 "Good News" Kelly Jadon