How to Build a Bigger Table

When you have more than you need, build a bigger table, not a higher fence. John Pavlovitz.

I’ve had Fourth of Julys spent huddled under desks with Oakley and Orion that felt more like end of the year celebrations than this season has. Holidays and I don’t get along really well to begin with, so forgive me for sitting this month out except for New Year’s Eve. I look forward to the books being closed on this plate of lutefisk with a colonoscopy prep chaser of a year.

In the personal world, the holiday get together with my family has been postponed. There’s no way Sister and Brother in Law can get down here safely, and they’re both in risk groups. Brother and Sister in Law are in risk groups. Hubby is in a risk group because of his age. Trinkets and tokens of affection will get exchanged somewhere along the line, I’m sure, though, but in person is contraindicated until further notice.

For now, anyway, it’s time to put the focus on what can be done, especially in the wider world. As we’ve seen, there’s a lot that needs doing. As I write, we have 31 days until President Biden and Vice President Harris are inaugurated (I know it’s technically -elects, but they’ve been acting more presidential than some occupants of the West Wing I can name). Even with the incoming administration, the damage done in the last four years and exacerbated by the pandemic this year is not going to be repaired overnight.

Just like the best way to wash a stack of dishes is to grab a plate and start washing, the best way to help with the mess caused by COVID-19 is to pick an issue and take action. For us, making sure people eat is first and foremost. “Appalled” didn’t begin to cover our reactions to the videos of people waiting in lines for hours to get food. Hubby and I donated to https://solvehungertoday.org, the Northern Illinois Food Bank.

In addition, I’ve been spending more time on Twitter retweeting articles on food insecurity to my elected reps and articles detailing what the populace can do to help their neighbors who may be in dire circumstances. For ways to help in your area, please go to https://www.feedingamerica.org.

If you can donate, great. Even a dollar or five can help (they can create eight meals out of every dollar per the food bank). Even an extra can of tuna or jar of peanut butter means an extra sandwich or two. And don’t forget soap, cleaning supplies, hand sanitizer, and masks. Those are not covered by SNAP.

Another way to donate is to buy a gift card and leave it with the cashier. That way if someone comes up a bit short at checkout, the cashier can use it to discreetly help the customer.

Everyone can contact their reps at the state and local levels. Email. Call. The US Capitol switchboard is 202-224-3121. If you have a rep who’s not responsive, support another candidate in 2022.

In the meantime, wash your hands, wear a mask, watch your distance…and here’s to gathering at a larger table next year.

Friendly Reminder: Tomorrow (5/12) Is the Postal Carriers’ Food Drive

Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive Logo

Get your canned goods bagged up and by the mail box tomorrow. It’s the 26th annual Stamp Out Hunger food drive sponsored by the USPS. You provide the food. Your carrier and colleagues will do the rest.

On a daily basis, 42 million Americans (12 million of them children, for Mystery’s sake–how sick is that?) face food insecurity (the fancy way of saying that they don’t know where their next meal will come from) on any given day. Proposed cuts to SNAP will make it even worse if passed.

In addition to contacting your elected officials both at the state and federal level to prevent this abomination, please take a little time today to go through your pantry or stop at the store for nonperishables. Food pantries need:

  • Canned tuna, salmon, and chicken
  • Nut butters.
  • Shelf-stable plant based or dairy milk
  • Canned vegetables, fruit, and soup, preferably low sodium
  • Cereals such as oatmeal
  • Beans and pasta
  • Cooking oil
  • Pet food
  • Cleaning and hygiene products (not covered by SNAP)

For more information and statistics, please visit Feeding America‘s website. And remember what Mr. Roger’s mother told him about coping in scary times: look for the helpers. Tomorrow you’ll not only have the chance to see them in action, but you get to be one as well.

 

Food Insecurity 101

From Quoteaddicts.com.

 

 

(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.

 

 

 

We Interrupt the Latest Celebrity Meltdown…

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.