Monday, October 28, 2013

Don't Stop with Donating to a Food Shelf

   A visitor who uses the food shelf just stopped by the center with his bags. All the food was heavily processed (not to mention over packaged) including "cheese blintzes" and hostess-type cakes and white bread. He isn't allowed to pick the food himself, the staff picks it out for him. This is a fellow who does cook for himself with fresh food if he can get it (A friend gave him a real treat, some chicken, which he baked.) Of course the food will keep him from being hungry. He's quite thin as he has to walk everywhere and has a severe (and obvious) physical disability. His color is very poor and he looks unhealthy. He does smoke, but due to the high cost of cigarettes he picks up butts from the ground, a practice he says he'd like to stop, but he can't afford to buy them and nicotine is a really hard addiction to kick. His family background was in farming, before the farms went under, so he remembers farm-fresh food from his childhood.

  Charity is laudable, but it would be great if people would also spend some time working to break the hold of agro-business on the economy, stop subsidizing mega-producers of corn and soybeans and start subsidizing small farmers and community farms, because as it is now they can't make it without selling at high prices ("value-added") to wealthy people. This fellow can't afford the local organic "Duck Comfit" advertised downtown. Plain old chicken, some potatoes and a fresh vegetable would be just fine for him, thank you. Oh, by the way, his food stamps have been cut to under $200/month, and if things keep going the way they are, will probably be cut again.

  Don't stop with a donation to your local food shelf. Ask yourself how we can change the system to create a local, healthy stable food supply for all Americans, not just the privileged few.

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