Art of the Cart–8

By Susan Brockway

Pass the mashed potatoes and yes….I will have another piece of turkey. 
Do these words sound familiar?  For some of us they certainly ring true, but for millions this Thanksgiving, it was not the same old song.  I was at home on Thanksgiving and watched countless stories about people having less, doing more with less, and more importantly……spending time with friends, neighbors, meal sites and family so everyone would have someone and somewhere to go. 
I bring this up today because one of the stories I watched focused on a family who had been unemployed and lost everything last year, but this year made it back on their feet and invited four people; total strangers, into their home for dinner.  Four turned into over thirty and without a Federal Bailout Program and a trip to the local grocery on a private jet, they were able to change the lives of some families who would have gone without or simply been alone. 
The power of food and how it brings us together regardless of our socioeconomic status, cultural background or religious beliefs is powerful.  We can live without a car, do with less clothing in our closets and even sleep more than one or two to a room to make things work.  We cannot however, live without food. 
More importantly, none of us should be deprived of the spiritual nutrition that comes with knowing our children will not go to bed hungry and our grandparents will not have to make a choice between food or medication.
There is no federal bailout for the over 200 food banks who supply thousands of agencies across the country who in turn serve millions who simply cannot make ends meets any longer.   Unlike that conference held at a resort, food is not an option.  It is a silly thing called a requirement.  I trust that we all remember pulling the lever in November and casting a vote for some kind of change.  Our responsibility did not end in November, it continues with our voices today.  I don’t know about you, but I would prefer to invest a few billion in a Nutritional Stimulus Package.  I am fairly certain the results would be something all Americans could be proud of. 
And I would like the family who invited 4 and ended up with 30 to be on the oversight committee.  Agree or disagree, but please use your voice to make a difference.

11 Replies to “Art of the Cart–8”

  1. Dave Reaney

    Susan,

    Well I’m weeks behind in responding to this.  In the mean time we’ve seen another round of insane bailout stories and of course now, the evaporation of billions of dollars in foundation money by another filthy rich investment genius, Like a majority of Americans surveyed, it continues to rub me the wrong way that we’ll bail out the bank over bad mortgages but not the people who couldn’t pay the mortgages. The government has truly lost its way in communicating to people and seems to only want to deal in "big" things, forgetting that a million little parts make up something big. Dealing with a vast rural area in which our Food Bank supports over 600 organizations, I see the need for neighborhood level work done by small churches and individuals as both essential and valuable in bonding people and reconnecting in a time where more and more isolation occurs through i-pods, 125 TV channels, text messaging and video games. No single program rises to a level of interest to government, all operate in the shadows. Although almost every program operates significantly cheaper than anything the government could do, they’ll never be "noticed" by government because it takes really getting involved with others to open a person’s eyes and provide the kind of perspective needed to build on community strength rather than throw money at a new bureaucracy.

    Wow, did I get off the subject or what! My point was, I don’t think oversight committees are the answer, we need people who’ve pulled themselves out of the challenges are part of the leadership doing the work.

  2. Randy Starck

    Several years ago, I volunteered for an advisory board position of the local food pantry. The community pantry was comprised of about a dozen faith-based food pantries. The purpose of the advisory board was to address underserved areas of five surburban towns within the township boundaries. Some funding had been made available. After months of meetings, no concensus was reached as to how to assist clients in the underserved area. The concensus was where to open a small food pantry warehouse, accessible to people in the targeted neighborhood.

    I was a lone voice, proposing the start-up of a mobile pantry distribution system. Citing the success of many food banks, I suggested that a greater access to transportation would enable every existing pantry to better serve their clients and to reach those people who lived too far from these pantries. The trucks could even deliver fresh produce and short-coded perishable foods directly to those in need. Bringing food and grocery products to those in need seemed more effective than trying to locate a new building in the best location.

    No one else supported the idea of a mobile pantry distribution. Concerns ranged from security concerns of distribution, angry mobs, stealing, and whose pantry would receive the "credit" for distributing outside of their church boundaries. The excuses made me angry.

    Fast forward one year later- nothing has changed except for a 30% increase in client need. The same neighborhoods are still underserved.

  3. pastor rob miltenberger

    why do we not "bail out" the hungry in this country? the auto execs would like 34 billion, me i would like 100 thousand and I could feed those who are in need until I meet the Lord!! Tyson has been a great resource to us, and yes it is because of Sue. I look at our economic situtation and wonder why cars, and not food? I guess i have my priorities mixed up! Merry Christmas to all!

  4. Betsy Reithemeyer

     

    It makes you wonder about the priorities of our world, much less our country, when there are stimulus packages to help those with a lot and the workers who make those prosperous  lives possible are again ignored.  For all the calls of reform throughout the last election, ensuring that people are fed with healthy food does not seem to be a high priority.  By not taking care of those least among us, our communities and nation cannot thrive.  The disparities we are seeing among communities will continue to grow.  This year, as in year’s past, our family will focus on giving gifts back to the community rather than to each other — to those who do not have the opportunity to choose between a need and a want.  Until the rest of the country understands that providing food is a need — not a want — it will still fall on the few to provide for the many.  Bless the many men and women who step up everyday in food banks and pantries to help their neighbors.  And, be grateful that in times like these when so many corporations are cutting back on their giving, there continue to be national leaders, like Tyson, who remember those most in need.  Not feeding our people today adds to an uncertain and unpleasant future — it is in our hands and power to change that.  Thanks to all who make it happen.

  5. Candy Gilmore

    Green Bay Wisconsin is a small community with a total population of 70,000.  I am amazed at the number of food banks and homeless shelters in the area.  The Tyson Green Bay location has always collected non-perishable food items for one of those food banks the week before Christmas.  I called today and was  told they were desperate so we will start our collection next week. to increase our plant giving level.  We have also donated product or raw materials, most recently a pallet of flour.  We know with the price of flour, this will help with baking and cooking needs to feed the many families with children that come to their doors.

  6. Alan Tyson

    Sue, your words are challenging.  I’d rather stayed in my comfort zone!  My church has a food pantry that is supported by a local foodbank.  I will get involved with this ministry and acquaint myself with another segment of society that I am shielded from.

  7. Suzan Bateson

    We can’t wait for a government bail out for the Alameda County Community Food Bank in Oakland, California.

    An unprecedented spike in need has us scrambling to hand out food for today and hope for tomorrow by working on policies that we hope will brighten the future. We have an amazing outreach team that helps connect as many families as we can with the federal supplemental nutrition assistance (food stamp) program — that takes time, and these days with layoffs and underemployment, high food prices, and a 40% spike in clients who need food right now — time is our enemy.  We distribute millions of pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables each year and find a great deal of pride in that. Our operations team works harder than they knew they could to turn product around swiftly. Finance team keeps a close eye on our financials and oversees our administration while development works tirelessly to raise funds, food drive donations and create amazing events (you know you’ve seen us in action). I walk among angels each day with our staff, agency partners, board and donors — who strive to conquer hunger in our community.

    We serve tens of thousands of hungry children. Children’s health is affected by improper nutrition — but even more delicate is their emotional state when parents work more than one job but can’t afford adequate nutrition for their family. Illness, depression, isolation and hopelessness can lead to a gang’s allure or academic failure. This is our future, America, how can we ignore our children.

    Last week a 92 year old called the food helpline. He had never asked for help in his life. Our helpline operators take calls like these each day. They have more compassion than you can imagine. They take in more than anyone should ever hear.

    How can you help? Many who read this won’t be able to make big financial gifts — but America is a wealthy country and has many wealthy citizens. Over the next couple of years it will be essential for Americans to give — at their greatest capacity — to basic needs organizations like food banks. With 36 million Americans affected by hunger it’s clear that we have a crisis that will play out in the future if we don’t provide a safety net today.

    Sue, thanks for your work and your challege to speak up. Sometimes the work takes us to the limit, but it’s important that we share a snapshot of Main Street with those who will take our words to heart.

    Best holiday wishes —

    Suzan Bateson, executive director of the Alameda County Community Food Bank

  8. Marge Wolf

    Working in a foodbank makes it much clearer that there are HUNGRY people in this world of ours. We hear people speak about the horrors of third world countries and that people are starving but people really need to look around their own families and neighbors and see how many children or senior’s are going to bed hungry.  I saw a news report this morning that a mother was diluting her child’s baby formular to make it last for the week.  The child became terribly ill and the Dr. said that they got him to the hospital just in time, that one more day he would have died..  They also showed the mother of the child on the news report and she looked emaciated herself.  I am not talking about a third world country I am talking about a news report right here in the USA.   People SHOULDN’T be hungry anywhere but especially not in America.

  9. John Wahl

    Sue,

    You are right on target.  My area is in the midst of an energy boom and we still have too many hungry people.

     

    John

  10. Karen Hanner

    Sometimes we get lost in the enormity of it all because the number of Americans facing hunger is seemingly overwhelming.  But this family made a difference in the lives of a few.  And in turn, they probably will pay it forward and touch the lives of a few more when they are able, as well.  The challenge is for us that have never had to experience the humbling reality of having to choose between sufficient nutritional food for our family and medical bills and transportation to get us to work, is to start our own forward pyramid by touching a few ourselves.  invite someone to dinner, donate to a charity, bring cans to church, or hand fast food coupons to someone looking for help on the street.  The miracle is that each small gesture multiplies exponentially to impact many more. 

  11. Sue Stewart Lodmell

    Can I hear an Amen Sister?

    We have learned as a society to shut out, or turn away from unpleasantness, our houses and neighborhoods are sometimes more distant than we remember growing up. That helps make this something we can try to ignore. With so much tragedy sometimes it is a self defense mechanism…we can only stand so much pain. But, the difference is, we have a choice….

    We didn’t have much growing up so hunger and poverty are very close to my heart. I remember many a Christmas, my parents bringing home someone who had no where to go and they usually had a child in tow. I remember the first time thinking…why are they here..and before I could voice something to that effect, being quickly reminded we share with others, always. No exception. My family was not a relgious one per say but that was a golden rule we all learned and work to pass on.

    When people say it isn’t personal..they just need to help themselves, I beg to differ.

    It is very personal. It isn’t ‘those’ people, it is but for the grace of god, all of us. We all want to be able to feed our families.  Comfort food means something different to all of us. We can all name one that resonates with a memory.

    If your family can’t feed itself, more than food is missing. If our basic needs are not met, there is not a possibility we can move forward from being in crisis mode. This isn’t other people’s problems. It is our problem and we all have an obligation to be part of the solution. Namaste

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