Sunday, November 18, 2012

Poor People Are Still Hungry After The Holiday Season

Recently some very great friends of mine with big hearts did a social media driven fundraiser for our local soup kitchen and food bank. Which reminded me of something I think of every holiday season-poor people aren't only hungry during the holiday season.

I know that my friends who put this together understand this. They are the type of people who give all year round. So this is not a direct statement for or about them. It is however a statement about how we as a culture like to only think about and value the poor seasonally. Many people put some money in the red kettle, drop some toys in the Toys 4 Tots container, maybe volunteer at a soup kitchen, and then for the rest of the year most of the country doesn't bother to think about what it really means to be poor in America.  To be clear, I as a mother living in poverty certainly appreciate and have benefited from holiday help. I have also donated.

To have a traditional holiday meal is costly and when living on a tight budget it is an expense many of us just can't justify. Yet honestly what makes feeding us poor folk so much more important on those days?  I know people want everyone to have those special family moments that happen during holiday dinners. However, what about the importance of everyday family dinners? Why it is ok for children to go hungry, skip meals, and have to eat cheap unhealthy food the rest of the year?

I raise these points to say hunger and poverty matter all year not just at holiday time and if you care than your support for programs that help should be ongoing. No matter your political beliefs there is something you can do. If you can't bring yourself to support government anti poverty programs, I won't ever agree with you but fine, support your local food bank and soup kitchen in some way ALL YEAR LONG. Volunteer, donate money, hold seasonal food drives at your church or social club there is much you can do. If you support government programs stand up for them write your congressperson and senators and help fight for them and that doesn't mean you can't help support your local grassroots anti hunger programs too.

 If you know a family struggling help them. If you know where the homeless people are FEED THEM! These things aren't rocket science they are missions of the heart. You want to help poor people have access to more fruits and vegetables support community gardens and workshops on container gardening. (Newsflash food stamps can be used to  buy seeds to grow food.) I know, I know I am one poor person with one small blog that no one reads but seriously this needed to be said and now I said it for 1 million US children that go hungry everyday and the parents who reduce their food or go hungry to feed their kids. Why because I am one of those families too. (Melissa Harris Perry recently did some great segments on what food insecurity especially related to families receiving SNAP ie food stamps looks like)