Catholic Charities : Diocese of Des Moines
February 2012

February 21, 2012

By Ken Bresnan, Parish Outreach Liaison, Catholic Charities


I am a 64 year old male and I enjoy food.


My wife is a marvelous cook and thankfully she has mastered the traditional basics. My favorite sport is snacking on any type of nuts, cheeses and cracker arrangements and I do appreciate a good desert. My hobby is frequenting coffee shops. Nothing elaborate, but at least $1.75 per cup. I have a higher than desired cholesterol tendency so I must be careful of the items that I eat.


My wife and I make a weekly trip to the grocery store and we will also make a few short stops during the week if required. We do not consider ourselves extravagant, but we don't really have to pay attention to what we put in the cart. Whatever the bill is, we have the money to pay for it. I am not sure if I can give an average bill but if I had to guess I would say $120 a week.


Why have I given you all this background about me? Because I am going to be doing the Food Stamp Challenge at different times and from different angles throughout Lent. I invite you all to see if you can meet the challenge for a day, to a week, this Lenten season as well. The idea is to eat on $4.50/day or $1.50 per meal. 


As of today I have no idea of what I am getting into.


Wish me luck and let me know of your experiences by commenting on our Facebook page:





Consider taking the Food Stamp Challenge during Lent
February 15, 2012

Did you know that each month 373,856 Iowans utilize food stamps as their main source of food?


Thankfully, most of us reading this have no idea what it is like to use food stamps. We have been blessed with enough resources that enable us and our families to go to the grocery store and purchase what we need. And even stuff we don't need.


But if we don't really know what it is like to have to rely on a stipend or an allotment for our food, how can we effectivly advocate for our brothers and sisters, neighbors and co-workers and friends and family who are in need of essential assistance?


Please join us at Catholic Charities for one week (or even just a few days) this Lenten season in taking part in the Food Stamp Challenge.


The Challenge is something the entire family can take part in. Here is how it works:


1. Each person receiving food stamps has a monthly allotment of $133.79. That translates to $4.50 per day or $1.50 per meal. This is your food budget for all the food your eat during the week. (can't do a week-- shoot for just a couple of days!)

2. All food purchased and eaten during the Challenge week, including fast food and dining out must be included in the total spending.

3. During the Challenge, eat only food that you purchase for the project. Do not eat food that you already own.

4. Let us know how it’s going by joining our Food Stamp Challenge conversation at


Thank you for participating!

February 6, 2012

By  Vicki-lynn Kelly, Training & Prevention Educator and

Rachel Mabrey, Volunteer/Public Relations Coordinator at the Phoenix House.


For the last month, staff at the Phoenix House, Catholic Charities Domestic Violence Shelter & Sexual Abuse Program in Council Bluffs, has been gearing up for awareness activities taking place in schools and the community this February, known nationally as Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month.


Paralleling this preparation was the passing of Joe Paterno, which revived the media-hype about the events that unfolded at Penn State last year resulting in charges of sex crimes against children being filed. As the events unfolded at Penn State, we came to understand that many people who held positions of power and authority made decisions that, in the language of anti-bullying education, made them “bystanders”.


The irony did not escape us as we prepared our curriculum used for Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month. We tell our teens that instead of becoming bystanders, they have the responsibility to act. But as adults, we need to ask ourselves, “do we hold ourselves to the same standard?”


So why is it so difficult for us to recognize violence whether it be domestic, sexual or teen dating violence, and take the steps required to stop it?


People who see trauma and violence unfolding before them will often tell you they were ill equipped to do anything to stop it. Most of us have suffered one time or another with indecision when we see something happening that we know is wrong. “Who do I tell?” we ask ourselves. “What if I’m wrong and I ruin someone’s reputation or career? What if they retaliate against me? Is it really any of my business? If I speak up, what would I say?” It isn’t usually callousness or complicity. Often we feel like we have something to protect. Maybe Joe Paterno believed he did all he could, maybe he thought he could control the situation or that it wasn’t his job. In all likelihood, he believed he was protecting his football program or the school itself.


We may believe that we would have made different choices – and we may even be right. But we should check ourselves to ensure we are committed to ending sexual violence and exploitation in our own communities by having conversations about how to stop it. Make sure our schools know how important it is that our children learn tools to effectively intervene when they see violence starting. Bring in speakers to civic groups, church meetings and book clubs. Start discussions about violence and become determined to intervene.


We encourage you to learn more and get involved. Contact programs like Catholic Charities Phoenix House to discuss the free anti-violence education and training opportunities that are available in your community.


Links & Resources:
Phoenix House 24 hour crisis phone line: 888-612-0266
Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month press release
Article about Teen Dating Violence by Non-Pariel, Council Bluffs, IA



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