(note: If I could go in the quote and put brackets around “childhood,” I would…because no one should go hungry. Period. End of quotation.)
Let’s start with a definition of food insecurity here. According to the USDA, 11% of US households along with as many as 20% of children struggle to meet the basic need of nutritious food. 8% of senior citizen households struggle to keep themselves fed as well.
It’s not just people on the ends of the life spectrum. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities reported that 1.7 million US veterans made use of SNAP and local food pantries. Thanks to disability and a lack of truly decent jobs on their return, they end up in that hellish place where they have to decide between food, medicine, and bills. (The VA doesn’t do as much as you might think. One of my close friends is in a running battle with them on behalf of her husband, but that’s a long story for another entry.)
However, you can help. Yes, you, Gentle Reader, and I will be beside you. Beyond tossing stats and facts around–important for educating yourself and others–and beyond making contributions–vitally important for providing resources–the most important step you can take is reminding your congress rep about these issues in a phone call or email. If you have the misfortune to live in a district (like WI-01 or IL-14) with a rep who thinks the new tax bill that favors the extremely rich is just fine and dandy or is apathetic to the needs of the constituents, then work on getting them out of office.
No one should make a sacrifice for their country and have to choose between bills and food.
No one at the end of their life should have to, either.
And the parents of the people at the beginning of their lives shouldn’t have to, either.
No one, under no circumstances. Ever.
HEY! (jumping up and down while waving arms in the air) Over here! In the soybean field!
Ok, do I have your attention now? Good. Did you know that late last week and this weekend, the House voted to cut SNAP by 40%? The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as food stamps? The one that helps keep people who are elderly, disabled, veterans, and members of military families, and small children fed? That one. In an act of pure meanness, it was cut to balance the budget.
The amount saved was like cutting your toenails to lose weight.
I talked to Hubby a little while ago. He had turned on one of the morning “news” shows for a little background noise while he completes this round on his mom’s house. The lead story was about Oprah having nearly had a nervous breakdown. Seriously. Having been there and done that, she has my sympathy. However, Hubby had no idea that the cuts had happened, or that Taiwan and Hong Kong were feeling the aftereffects of a typhoon that looks like Sandy redux, or that Al-Quada operatives from a cell in Somalia had taken hostages at a mall in Nairobi and there had been a lot of explosions and gunfire.
Donations to some international relief organization will help Kong Kong and Taiwan. Beyond prayers and holding the people of Kenya in our thoughts, we can’t do much about that situation.
There are things we can do to help SNAP recipients here at home, though:
- Please practice nonjudgement about how they ended up on assistance. The vast majority of recipients are working poor of all colors, military families, seniors on Social Security, or living with disabilities that prevent them from working, and children. I worked in social services, and concede that there are people who abuse the system. However, there are many more who get abused by the system, such as one client who was bounced between her financial aid office, the public assistance office, and her deadbeat ex-husband. Her family had thrown her out when she found out that she was pregnant and would have nothing more to do with her. Every time she had a increase in one form of benefits, another was cut. Eventually, she gave up, dropped out of school, and stopped coming for sessions. Wherever she is, I hope that she’s ok.
- Don’t be a single issue voter. Everyone wants the most bang for their tax buck, and no one wants unwarranted increases, but see where candidates stand on other issues, such as promoting the development of green industries or infrastructure to support job creation.
- Educate yourself about the issues involved in hunger and its prevention.
- Donate to your local food bank, either nonperishables or cash.
Thank you for listening. We now return you to the latest celebrity meltdown.
Karma and I will see you at the voting booth in November.