For most of us these December weeks will be a time of overindulgence--too much shopping, too much partying and too much eating. We’ll be stuffed from the nibbling on the office cookies and cakes, the rich holiday party hors d’oeuvres and, special foods of the season.

But, too much food is a dream for 47 million Americans, 16 million children, whose everyday reality is hunger.

Until recently food stamps, now known as the supplemental nutrition assistance program, or SNAP, has been the major support for hungry Americans. That help was sharply reduced last month when federal stimulus money ended. Now a family of four receives $36 less a month, individuals $10 to $20 less. Most run out of food before the end of the month.

Even before Thanksgiving emergency food hotlines, food banks and soup kitchens saw a marked uptick in the numbers of people looking for a way to feed themselves. When a food pantry in a New Bedford church was robbed, organizers knew the loss of 20 turkeys and 300 pounds of food would mean greater desperation for the people who turned to them for help.

It’s hard to believe that so many people don’t have enough to eat in this country. As a member of Boston’s Delta Sigma Theta sorority, I helped prepare and serve the women at the Pine Street Inn shelter for many years. It was sobering to see the number of women who lined up for our monthly visit, grateful for the homemade meal. Most of the women we served didn’t look much different from us. It reminds me that "but for the Grace of God go I".

Kind donors refilled the pantry at St. Anthony of Padua’s, replacing the stolen food with 1,000 pounds of food, and 60 turkeys. Other donors have also contributed to an online fundraiser to replace the damaged freezer.

This time of abundance inspires many Americans to give generously, but it’s a temporary fix for growling stomachs and empty cupboards.  No amount of seasonal generosity is a long term solution for a problem that should be the shame of a wealthy nation.