First Fridays for Food Security begins May 6

Catholics can join in solidarity with hungry Americans for the next year through a new First Friday program designed to help raise awareness about food insecurity in the U.S.

Called First Fridays for Food Security, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ program utilizes social media to help Catholics understand how hunger affects Americans.

Individuals and families can share their experiences on Facebook of limiting how much they spend on a meal on the First Friday of each month beginning May 6 and running through April 6, 2012, to the amount allotted for a family of their size in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Modified Thrifty Food Plan.

The plan is the basis for the monthly allocation received by poor families under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as food stamps. Under the plan at the thrifty level, a family of four has less than $20 to spend daily for all of its meals in order to stay on budget.

The effort will likely lead to a cut in normal spending on food, which the USCCB Office of Domestic Social Development said can be considered a form of fasting.

The program also gives Catholics the opportunity to pray and advocate for people who do not have enough to eat.

The Facebook page will feature a new posting each month focusing on a different aspect of hunger. Among topics to be explored are the reality of food insecurity in the U.S., migrant workers and those who produce food, the effects of hunger on pregnant women and their unborn children, and child nutrition and the school lunch program.

USDA data reveal that 17.4 million American households — about  14.7 percent — did not have enough food at some point during 2009.

Photos of bin Laden’s compound, with nice detail

Our friends at have done a fine job reporting from Pakistan in the aftermath of the death of Osama bin Laden. Check out these photos, captured by Kamran Chaudry in Abbottabad, Pakistan.