Hunger Is Not a Disease

November, 2013, and Today at the Food Pantry

“Say goodbye to the landlord for me; Sons of bitches always bored me.” – Guy Clark
Yet another round of Food Stamps cuts went into effect in November, 2013. This national event with far reaching repercussions didn’t negatively affect everyone. After all, a person not receiving SNAP card funds wasn’t even affected unless s/he was politically conservative. In that case, November 5 was a glorious day.
For those depending on SNAP card funds, the impact was serious.
Diane, a shopper in our pantry has been a widow for about a year. She lives totally off her low social security check each month. After Diane pays her rent and utilities, she has no money for food. The food she eats comes from a pantry. She purchases all of her clothes at the Family of Woodstock free store. Diane’s old car recently needed repairs and she was trying to borrow money to pay for them. Some friends of her deceased spouse gave her the funds needed to fix the car.
Jane is a single woman, also on social security. While her allotment is much larger than Diane’s, this is what Jane has for food. She has no budget for extra food money. Jane’s rent is higher than Diane’s but she also has no clothing budget. Jane’s entire monthly budget goes to the rent and gasoline for her subcompact car.
For those working in pantries, soup kitchens, and shelters, the event brought fear. We know that cutting back on SNAP (food stamps) benefits isn’t the answer. These small amounts of money add up in a community. When people shop for groceries with their funds, they not only offer nourishment to themselves and their families, they bring much needed money into the area which, many times, is depressed.
People have financial problems today which they are never going to overcome without a serious change in our country’s attitude toward poverty. People have no food money because of lack of viable employment, high housing costs, no medical benefits and high medical costs. People shopping in a food pantry lack resources to get beyond what appears to be a permanent situation of lack in their lives. In short, a few people are wealthy today at the expense of the poor.
According to a Feeding America study taken in 2010, 75% of pantry shoppers are “food insecure.” This means they lack resources to put enough food on the table to feed themselves and other household members adequately. We repeatedly read/hear the statistic about one senior in seven not having enough food. It’s estimated that one child in five does not have enough food to eat. Many people live in areas with no real grocery store which means they are living on food offered in gas stations, convenience stores, and pharmacy grocery shelves.
As the food benefits are repeatedly cut, pantry volunteers experience a new wave of overwhelmingly long lines of hungry people.
They fear many, many more shoppers.
They fear we will run out of food for the people.
They fear we will be unable to get enough food to the pantry (soup kitchen, shelter) to feed the ever increasing number of people in the future.
There is this realization that no one in our country aside from the pantry volunteers understands that it’s been a long time since we really were emergency food providers.
It’s turning out to be a very busy summer.
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Peace and food for all.

Thurman Greco