Food is so personal. It can directly reflect our health, income and even social status. I often encounter varied reactions my writing students address when receiving criticism/feedback on their work and can definitely see how being on food assistance parallels and surpasses those personal experiences on an emotional even more.
When I watched the documentary film A Place at the Table (*** out of four stars) on Netflix it was a very personal experience. I have been on both sides of the issue and the person-to-person interactions are so poignant. I feel online access to food assistance programs has diminished the emotional impact on our nation, but we still see it in public.
Speak with our wallet in what we buy, but location means a lot. The documentary explained great details about how food producers won’t distribute to remote areas of the country. Perceived solutions become loaded issues. Why can’t people buy healthy food online? It’s true Amazon.com has a grocery store area, but no veggies and fruits mainly include expensive gift baskets, dried fruit and processed fruit cups. Why not grow a garden? Why not visit a food bank? All tough question that present a wide variety of different challenges and scenarios.
When receiving food assistance I shopped responsibly since funded by taxpayers were paying for my food and have always taught my family what foods are healthy and unhealthy, which is getting more challenging every day (e.g. misleading food titles/labels, etc.)
We often give someone in line at the grocery store using food assistance the same cold shoulder as someone who writes out a check and “holds up the line” or buys “luxury” food items. Feeding people is definitely more important than some extra seconds or minutes waiting in line. This scenario also accentuates that “invisible wall” – a taboo where we don’t ask them about why they are on food assistance and just “mind our own business”, but why can’t we introduce ourselves in the parking lot and invite them to a community event we’re involved in then get to know them better….even invite them to dinner in our home.
“I’m paying for that program!” instead of “I’m helping my fellow citizens and I might need that help someday.” That is the typical sentiment. We cannot help, but compare. It’s the standard haves and have nots and it does not have any formidable positive impact. It spreads everywhere in our lives. For example, how many times do we compare how many breaks people take at work with our own. In some circles, people are expected to know where everyone in their community lives, their job/responsibilities, and names of family members yet we won’t take a minute to interact with someone we don’t know or perceivably don’t want to know.
Depend on others amid a society reaching around with both arms to guard what’s “theirs” and glare at anyone else walking by who might threaten their “security”. Perception and hate are the key elements perpetuating hunger…and other areas . Getting directly involved and showing a loving heart can curb all our appetites. I looked up the following quote that really summarizes my feelings as well:
A thought to help us through these difficult times: Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle – Ian MacLaren