Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Enough to Eat Is a Basic Right

If you remember the old expression, “a penny for your thoughts,” you probably aren’t surprised to learn the going rate now is more like 37 cents.  (Not necessarily for any of mine, but that’s a rant for another time). A trip down the aisle of your local grocery store confirms a dollar doesn’t go as far as it used to. 

So you can very easily imagine just how far $4.17 a day doesn’t go when that’s all you have to spend on groceries. I’m not talking about just for lunch or actually for any particular meal. I mean for the entire day. And if you are someone, or know someone, who receives Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, no imagination at all is required. That is a seven day a week reality.

And with SNAP benefit recipients numbering into the hundreds of thousands here in a state that’s ranked fourth highest in median household income in the United States, it means when we look to either side of us, there’s a pretty good chance we’re looking at someone trying and failing to make do.

September is more than back to school and the end of summer. September is Hunger Action Month, HAM, an effort by the Connecticut Food Bank to raise our awareness of what far too many of our neighbors go through on a daily basis to make ends reach even though the ends keep moving and an opportunity for each of us to help all of us.

The Connecticut Food Bank prepares about 17 million meals annually for people across our state and throughout our communities, which is a mind-numbing number to someone like me who gets hungry at the thought of missing a meal (and my reflection in the mirror suggests I don’t make a habit of that). 

That is a lot of food and yet, it’s still not enough to feed the need.

I’m not talking about helping many, or even any, of those who are indeed in need of assistance we read about in some far corner of the globe, and who sometimes seem (perhaps only me) to be more of an abstraction than an ongoing situation, but right here.

Another expression suggests “charity begins at home,” and here on the home front a lot of people don’t start the day with a good breakfast, probably skip lunch and end up going to bed hungry after dinner because there’s just so much Connecticut Food Bank and all of their partners throughout the state can do to help.

That’s where we come in.

By volunteering time or donating food and money to people like St. Vincent de Paul Place, here in Norwich, or places like the Gemma E. Moran United Way/Labor Food Center, in New London, we do more than just put food on plates. We show one another that no matter what happens, we are here for each other.

Actions always speak louder than words so during Hunger Action Month do more than talk. Help
-bill kenny                 

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