A Seat At The Table

iStock_000010215203XSmallOur country is upside down and inside out!  Juxtapose the strong opposition to social welfare with rampant corporate welfare for starters.  The government gives billions in agricultural subsidies to huge corporations like Monsanto, but cuts food stamp programs that effect children.  There are 50 million “food insecure” people in our country—people who do not know where their next meal is coming from–and that is shameful.

I saw a film this weekend that was a real eye-opener—“A Place At the Table” is a documentary that sheds a light on hunger in America, its close link to obesity and why poverty is the underlying issue that needs addressing.  It’s in the theaters and you can also rent it on Amazon.com

While faith communities have done a good job of feeding the poor, charity is not what will end hunger.  Fair pay for a day’s work will feed the soul of a man as well as his belly. While the job deficit grows, so does the food deficit in many households across America, yet the safety net for helping and healing both is woefully inadequate.

What we are willing to subsidize in terms of feeding the poor is a mere $3.00 per day in Federal Assistance. Congress yells and screams, “How are we going to pay for more? These people just want a free hand out,”  all the while doling out corporate welfare to huge agricultural conglomerates and oil.  The myth, perpetuated by some of our leaders, is that somehow poverty is a choice.  I would really like to see where Paul Ryan wound up had he been born into the inner city of Philadelphia as opposed to his privileged home. Moreover, I don’t believe that any innocent child chooses to go to bed hungry. Most people who are hungry are experiencing embarrassment and not glee in applying for Federal Assistance like food stamps. We can bail out the banks, cut taxes and award money to big corporations but we cannot fund a decent program that keeps children from starving in this wealthy nation of ours?  There is something criminal about that.

“A Seat At the Table” both angered and inspired me.  It angered me because I see that so many of our problems, including this one, are easily fixable if we would just get the big money out of politics and force our leaders to be the public servants that they were intended to be instead of whores who jump into bed with whatever corporation is holding out the biggest check for their re-election.  Imagine a Washington where the leaders were responsible to the American people, addressed the problems of those people and not the almighty American corporation. Imagine a pool of political candidates reliant upon their wits and wisdom instead of the lobby whose money will get them elected or re-elected.

“A Seat At the Table” inspired me as I began to wonder what I as one person might do to alleviate the hunger of children.  I know that I can make donations to my local food bank, but I think that there may be other ways for me to advocate that food is a “right” for all people. You can live without a lot of things in life, but you cannot live without food.  No mother should ever have to send her child to bed hungry at night!

There are two tiers of food consumption in this country:  people who have the least are relegated to a steady diet of packaged, processed, junk food because it is the cheapest.  Calories are cheap and nutritious foods cost, thus the link between hunger and obesity.  There is not a “choice” to eat healthy when you are eating on $3.00 a day. The second tier is made up of those who have so much of a choice that they are the largest consumers of diet books, trying to put all that abundance into some sort of perspective.

I have never had to deal with not being able to concentrate or focus because I was hungry, the way that fifth-grader Rosie did in “A Seat At the Table.”  I don’t worry about food lasting throughout the week because I am able to shop for more if I need to.  Any challenge of my life that seemed harsh or insurmountable up until now seems greatly diminished in its importance after seeing this film.

Poverty is tied to education, is tied to food, is tied to the health of a nation.  There are simple things that we can do now to assure that children get enough nutrition to assure a chance at a getting an education; that they get enough nutrition to assure a life of good health that in turn assures opportunity for improvement of their lot.  It’s not rocket science to think that instead of giving farm subsidies to corporations like Monsanto we fund food programs for these struggling people. The cost of not doing anything to alleviate hunger in our own country  will not help to balance the budget and it is certain to bankrupt us morally and spiritually.  It is time to acknowledge the problem of hunger right here in the good ol’ US of A and ask ourselves if we want a class system that delineates the haves from the have-nots by virtue of who is rich enough to feed their family.  If the ramifications of that are too frightening to consider, then what one action can each of us take that cumulatively can make a difference?

Author:

Novelist, essayist, blogger, wife, dog-mommy, dancer, dreamer, grateful.

23 thoughts on “A Seat At The Table

  1. Your article was awesome! There couldn’t be any more truth than the points you have covered! I am pleasantly impressed because these are the things I love to see, people defending those that feel they can’t defend themselves due to being up against a system that supports the rich and not the ones that really need it! I will share this article in every place I am able to. Thank you for putting this info out there, we must make a change, and fast!

  2. For three years I co-led an initiative that collected micro donations from travellers to alleviate the health disasters in Africa. 5 bucks saves a child. We’ve heard it all and is true. The indicative failed not because ordinary people weren’t ready to part with a few bucks but because the corporations were worried about their brand image. People need help and people want to help. Sadly those two are separated by an ocean other things. The answer is the one you found. Just do it.

    1. Good work my friend! Africa in many ways is a poor country with poor resources and yet 5.00 a day could help. Here is this country, we also have starvation, but it is starvation from foods that are packaged by big corporations and have no nutrition, just calories. That kind of eating creates disease. Real health care reform begins with nutritional food for all. Someone turned me on to a You Tube clip over the weekend. Check out Ron Finley and the amazing work he has done in South Central Los Angeles. title=”Ron Finley – South Central Los Angeles”>http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=EzZzZ_qpZ4w

      Thanks for stopping by! 😉

      1. That clip says it all. The real action is on the ground with people and “plant some shit”. I’ve printed that out to remind me to do just that. Thanks Stephanie!

    1. OR…it may inspire you to find simple actions that can make a difference. As an M.D., who is already educating about the health benefits of eating well by writing about it–your activism as a writer counts too! It is a crime that we live in a wealthy country where we have an issue like food insecurity. Sometimes the pen is a mighty sword. And who knows, along the way you will probably inspire a few patients as well! Love your blog and your style!

  3. Thank you for your post. You have pinpointed the root of the problem for millions. Having fallen into poverty because of illness and unemployment through the years, my husband and I are struggling as well. The biggest problem is we can’t afford to hire a lobbyist like big companies and really have no voice that counts in Washington. Then they slap a bumper sticker of “bleeding heart liberal” on us and we are dismissed. Thanks for getting people to think about this issue.

    1. I hope that things turn around for you. I too feel that Washington is blind to the real needs of real people and that more and more we are becoming a nation of those who have and those who don’t. That being said, while I don’t have faith in America’s leaders, I do have faith in the American people and I think that somehow, some way, we will find a means to heal the wounds that greed and power and wrought. BTW I am a “bleeding heart liberal” and proud of it. May I never lose the ability to feel that quivering in my heart for others–that is compassion. We owe it to one another. We owe it to ourselves to be good people. Thank you for sharing your truth!

  4. Excellent writing and a wake up call to all of us! I have read it twice…and will read it again. Yes, if we each do ONE thing, what an impact! If you added a widget for FACEBOOK, I could share your article with more people—I do think it is worth sharing! Thank you!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s