Looks can be deceiving, as the old adage, ‘Don’t judge a book by its cover’ admonishes us. A good friend of mine, after graduating from college and landing her first job, found herself in quite a pickle. A single mom, (losers often wait until you are tied to them to show you just what douche bags they are- her ex husband was no exception to this rule) she was in need of daycare that she could afford on her newbie salary. Another blow for her was that her car had, in that first week of work, decided to give up the ghost. Her mother graciously lent my friend a ‘spare’ car. Which just happened to be a relatively new Lincoln Continental. Dashing madly after work to find a suitable (and affordable) situation for her son, my friend drove up to the recommended daycare she had been told about. In her borrowed Lincoln. In her work clothes. All brand name and from the Salvation Army because the woman has a talent for finding gems there. And when she approached the director to ask for a payment reduction, the director raked her eyes up and down my friend’s small, well manicured, well dressed frame- and said no.
While living and working in South Carolina, I spent Sunday afternoons serving the homeless community a warm meal. I, along with at least thirty other individuals, would cook a dish and bring it to the local park. A community organization (Carolina Peace Resource Center, to be exact) supplied tables. By the time Hubby and I stopped participating, the group was regularly feeding over 100 homeless people every Sunday.
There is a look we associate with hunger and need. It’s the look of the homeless person you avert your eyes from. It’s the look that I saw every Sunday in the downcast eyes of those unfortunate souls- mostly day laborers, a few addicts and many mentally ill persons.
But these are not the only people suffering from hunger in the United States. This article talks about the myths we have about hunger in the US. Broken down, they are:
1- No one goes hungry in the US. (We should all know that hunger has no boundaries)
2- Ending malnourishment is merely a humanitarian concern. (If people are not eating well, they do not function well and that leaves society with under-functioning participants)
3-Children are the only ones who go hungry. (Government programs help to ensure that kids get meals, though these are regularly attacked by officials who think that the parents who are going hungry themselves will find a way to feed the kids if they don’t get help. They might, but at the expense of something else like health care or rent.)
4-The food that America wastes could feed everybody. (But this is mostly in the form of over ripe fruit or food gone bad in the fridge, which is not something you can feed to people.)
5-Hunger is about food. (Malnourishment occurs in people who are overweight since their diet consists of prepared, sugar filled food substance.)
The most important is the last because we should be aware, especially considering the current economic plight of many Americans (and people all over the world, for that matter), that hunger is also related to employment and wages. The day laborers we served in the park often chose between shelter and food. Similarly, people are choosing between paying rent or utilities and food. Seniors often choose between food and life saving medication.
NPR did an incredible piece about hunger in America that brought me to tears when I heard it. One woman says that this isn’t her life- it can’t be.
Looks can be deceiving. Local food banks are being depleted at rapid rates these days. I know- I volunteer regularly at the one here in my town. We are not the only ones experiencing this. Donate, if you can. Time or food. Because honestly, there but for the grace of God….