How the Shutdown Could Hurt the Hungry– and How You Can Help

How the Shutdown Could Hurt the Hungry– and How You Can Help December 30, 2018

 

A friend just posted the following on facebook:

“So, WIC funding is down to state and local resources; SNAP is funded through the end of January. Should the shutdown continue, keep in mind that folks who may be on the edge or already food insecure, may have an even harder time. Donations to food banks are good, but so is just directly asking your neighbors what they need and providing it. This is even true when SNAP/WIC *are* funded, since they are supplemental programs and not intended to provide a full budget for food for a month. But it will be especially important if these programs run out of funding.”

 She went on to say that she thinks that free school lunch funding is set for longer, perhaps through February, though she wasn’t sure.
I looked it up myself, and as far as I can tell WIC is also still running and being honored by grocery stores through January, but
 in either case, what my friend said highlights that a multitude of Americans suffer from food insecurity at the best of times, that these are far from the best of times, and that they stand to get a lot worse in the very short term.
For those of my readers who so often kindly check up on Michael, Rosie and me because you know we’re not very well off ourselves:  yes, this will effect us if it goes on too long, thank you for asking. But we’re safer than we used to be and will be far from the first hurt or the worst off. We’re fine now but I will keep you posted.
I want to give a little advice to people who would like to donate food to a charity like a food pantry, to friends who are food insecure or to poor people they know in the community. These are things I’ve learned from being poor myself and from listening to others who are a lot worse off, as well as from observing the good work done by organizations like The Friendship Room. 
First of all, most every food pantry, shelter and the like I’ve ever heard of accepts money. If you can’t think of what to give, donate some money to them and someone who works there will buy what’s needed the most. If you have a friend who’s begging for help to make ends meet, they’ll usually take money as well, of course, or you can take them to the store and have them pick up what they need within a certain budget. When you’re so poor you don’t know where your next meal will come from, a simple thing like being able to pick out your own groceries can really help your flagging sense of dignity.
If you’re going to donate food, donate things you’d like to eat yourself. That’s just following the Golden Rule and it’s common sense. Don’t give someone beets if you can’t stand to eat beets, for example. If your food pantry only takes shelf-stable things, try to donate some good protein sources like canned fish, canned meat and shelf-stable milk instead of just a bunch of creamed corn. Donate cooking oil, condiments and and seasonings, because it’s miserable to try to make dinner when you’ve got nothing but rice, beans and a few cans of vegetables but nothing to cook them with or in. Donate shelf-stable fruit juice for the vitamins and minerals, but make sure it’s real juice instead of a bunch of corn syrup. Donate healthy snacks like granola bars.
If you’re donating to a place that takes perishable food, throw in some fresh fruit and vegetables. Those are expensive and hard to come by, especially for poor people who live in food deserts. If you’re giving the produce to places that make meals for the homeless, bear in mind that homeless people don’t often have great teeth. Bagged salads and soft fruit like bananas and oranges will go a longer way than whole apples and carrot sticks. Remember that also if you’re packing a bagged lunch to give a homeless person: nourishing, easy-to-chew food, nothing too hard or leathery, nothing that gets stuck in the teeth easily, oranges are better than apples. Also, if you know that the place you’re donating to serves a lot of people who struggle with drug addiction: those people often have trouble balancing their electrolytes, and the potassium in a banana can literally save a life.
Whatever happens in our country in the coming weeks, the poor will always be among us. And that’s a mercy, because that’s where we encounter Christ. Let’s make sure that no one goes hungry, no matter what.
(image via pixabay) 

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