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Friday, November 29, 2013

Yesterday I Fasted

That's right. You read that correctly. Yesterday was Thanksgiving and I fasted.

It was not for medical reasons. It was in support of the poor people in America.

In the past I have run a food pantry and assisted at a food kitchen. I know the face of hunger, and I know it well.

It can't always be read in the lines on a person's face nor in the body fat, or lack thereof, that they carry. Hunger may be affecting the cashier who gives you attitude at that store that underpays its employees. It may be hurting the man in the cubicle next to yours. Or the woman riding on the bus, maybe the woman driving the school bus you so lovingly entrust the road safety of your child to.

It could be affecting the child sitting next to your child who is taking a standardized test. The overall scores of all the students in the school are used to set a school's ranking. Hungry children cannot concentrate, so a child who is missing meals or not eating enough at each meal could be hurting your child's education and chance of getting into your dream college.

(My children attended a school where they had all the students bused in early when testing was being done so that every child in the school was fed a free breakfast on the mornings of the tests. They wanted to make sure there were no hungry bellies and distracted children taking the test. They wanted high test scores to keep their high ranking.)

If you are still with me you are probably wondering what any of this has to do with me fasting on Thanksgiving.

My family was scattered yesterday, so I was not tempted by the smells of delicious food being cooked. I did not sit by, salivating, while others enjoyed the food I denied myself. Yesterday was the ideal day to fast.

In the last few years the United States Congress has cut funding to school breakfast and lunch programs. It has cut food stamps. It has not raised the minimum wage, not has it given itself a pay cut.

This year when the supermarkets put the turkeys on sale, the sale price was ten (10) cents a pound higher than it was last year.

In months with major holidays, people on food stamps do not receive anything extra. 

Food stamps do not feed an individual nor a family for the entire month. (Check out Cory Booker's social experiment.)

Most food pantries limit food stamp recipients to once a month.

Too many people do not live close enough to a food pantry or soup kitchen to be able to utilize them. And in many areas it is a humiliating experience.

Fact: One in six people in America do not get enough to eat.

One in six people in the richest country in the world go hungry everyday!!!

I went hungry yesterday for the people who couldn't afford to do the traditional Thanksgiving feast.

I went hungry yesterday for the people who missed meals over the course of the last few months in order to save to have the traditional feast.

I went hungry yesterday to silently show my solidarity.

Did I miss the food? Hell yes!

I suffered with hunger pains that woke me up in the middle of the night. I suffered from a headache brought on by hunger. I suffered every time I thought of a child who had to go without.

Please remember when Congress takes away money from school food programs, they are actually taking the food right out of children's mouths! 

Another thing to remember, when Congress cuts food stamps it is taking food out of the mouths of children, elderly, working poor, veterans, and the families of active military personnel. 

Also remember, it is cheaper to feed your family macaroni and cheese, Ramen noodles, Little Debbies, and soda than it is to buy fresh produce, whole grain cereals, and milk. The thinking is, a full belly is better for the soul than an empty belly with little bits of apple passing through it.

Tis the season for giving. I say give your Congressman hell. Tell him or her that you want funding returned to the school lunch and food stamp programs. 

It is time America fought the war against poverty the way Lyndon Johnson wanted it. The country was never able to fulfill Johnson's vision of a "Great Society" because of a little conflict known as Vietnam. 

What started as an advisory position turned into a "police action" and then an undeclared war. It ate up the Federal budget and the War on Poverty has never been fully funded. Instead of being a cure, the social programs became a bandaid.

Ever since we left Vietnam each President has presided over some kind of conflict, whether it was part of the "cold" war or a flaming conflict, the industrial-military complex has continued to eat up the Federal budget. President Dwight D. Eisenhower, (a former General) warned us about the industrial-military complex, but it is a major part of Congressional pork. (And Congress never goes hungry - just look at their fresh donut budget!)

Even one of our Founding Fathers, President (and former General) George Washington warned us about getting involved in foreign conflicts.

It is time to fully fund the War on Poverty and stop the War on the Poor!

The politicians are blaming the poor because they don't want to tax their corporate sponsors. They are turning brother against brother. Blaming the poor for the middle class slipping into the ranks of the poor.

The poor don't have that kind of power.

The people with the power seek to divert our attention away from those that are really to blame for the monetary iniquity. (And it is not the person who is holding down two or three jobs just to survive.)

Sorry, I have digressed into a rant, but I am not going to erase it. I usually keep politics out of this blog and off my Facebook page. I have another persona who is the activist. However, as we are going into the "giving season" and there are so many more people who need a helping hand, I can no longer be silent. (At least today!)

If you are able, donate to your local food pantry or soup kitchen. If money is tight, then donate your time. A warm body is always appreciated.

Happy Holidays, my friends.

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