Stop, look and listen before you accuse.

6337060349_eaf1e38ce3_bSome of my good friends are posting a link to a blog story indignantly pointing to a food drive being held in a WalMart store in Ohio, to benefit fellow associates in need during the holiday season.  (The food drive was initiated by the associates at the store, not as a corporate program).   There’s a suggestion therein that this would never occur in a place that paid a “living wage.”
I’m not here to either defend or pass judgment on WalMart’s wages.  That discussion occurs in plenty of other places.
However.  Circumstances place people in need.  Those circumstances can turn on almost anyone, anywhere.
The implication that a “decent” workplace would never have employees with food insecurity is just wrong, and I might suggest dangerous for those with an interest in fighting hunger.  Using this particular situation to sling a spear at WalMart does a great disservice to everyone in the hunger movement trying to combat a myriad of misplaced stereotypes about food insecurity.
Let me repeat:  Food insecurity can be present in any workplace.
Take a close look around your own circle; at your own workplace, your friends and family, and in the places you do business.  You’ll likely be surprised to find people in real need if you dig deeply enough. Then, I might suggest, do what the associates at this WalMart store did.  Take action to help out.

Photo vastateparksstaff  Flickr Creative Commons

So what exactly is “hunger?”

We’re in the process of doing some research about attitudes and perceptions of hunger.  More details to come, but it’s a bit of follow-up on some of the informal research we did last summer with participants of RAGBRAI.   

Last week we watched four different focus groups in two distinctly different parts of the U.S. come together to share their perceptions.

One of the things made clear–and this is not news to those who’ve been involved in the issue for a while–is that we have some  challenges as we use the word “hunger,” especially as it applies to much of the problem in the U.S. 

Many people believe “hunger” should apply only to situations in which there simply is little or no food available.  Sub-Saharan Africa, for example.    

They believe “malnourished,”  “food poverty,”  or the more commonly-used term “food insecurity” are more appropriate to describe the challenge–still quite serious–that we face in our own country.  They believe that when we use the word “hunger,” we create a disconnect that makes mention of the staggering numbers of people affected less believable. 

What do you think?