Sunday, December 2, 2007

Hungry? Who has time to think of anything else?

I know I've posted a couple of times on the topic of hunger. Well guess what? People are hungry and as long as they are, I will continue to discuss it. As I noted previously, the Oregon Food Bank is in some dire straits right now. Evidently, it isn't just Oregon in trouble. Food banks and pantries all over the country are seing shortages and increased demand not seen in decades.

In a New York Times article published this weekend food organizations around the United States are in trouble:

“It’s one of the most demanding years I’ve seen in my 30 years” in the field, said Catherine D’Amato, president and chief executive of the Greater Boston Food Bank, comparing the situation to the recession of the late 1970s.

“We don’t have nearly what people need, and that’s all there is to it,” said Greg Bryant, director of the food pantry in Sheffield, Vt. We’re one step from running out,” Mr. Bryant said.

The Vermont Food Bank said its supply of food was down 50 percent from last year. “It’s a crisis mode,” said Doug O’Brien, the bank’s chief executive.

For two weeks this month, the New Hampshire Food Bank distributed supplies reserved for emergency relief. Demand for food here is up 40 percent over last year and supply is down 30 percent, which is striking in the state with the lowest reliance on food banks.

Ross Fraser, a spokesman for America’s Second Harvest, which distributes more than two billion pounds of donated food and grocery products annually, said the shortages at food banks were the worst the organization had seen in 26 years.

“Suddenly it’s on everyone’s radar,” Mr. Fraser said. “Food banks are calling us and saying, ‘My God, we have to get food.’”

There are more examples in the article. Suffice to say, it isn't a pretty picture.

I've been thinking about this situation, and what increasing hunger means for this country. In a time when we need seriously innovative, creative thinking on things like global warming, Iraq, and even democracy, we have increasingly large numbers of people who don't even have the opportunity to think past their next meal, much less the larger issues of our day!

Maslow's hierarchy of needs is a well-known tool for looking at what a human being needs for fulfillment and what motivates us.

Notice the very bottom level, where our most basic needs reside; all about physical sustenance. In the next level we find things like employment and physical self-care. Think about that. This society very much blames those in poverty for their own problems, particularly the extremely poor and homeless. While I do not, at all, advocate complete lack of self-responsibility, how can we expect folks to "get a job" or "eat healthier" when they don't have the opportunity to think beyond their immediate physical needs? Alot of people see food stamps, providing healthcare assistance, or other public assistance as handouts to the undeserving. I see these programs as an investment in the future of our society.


Anonymous said...

"Alot" is not a word. Correct usage is "a lot"

Oregonian37 said...

Holy smokes had to go back almost 10 months to find a post with something you could nitpick? Gotta be better hobbies out there dontcha think?

And yes I know dontcha is not a real word. I will of course have myself flogged later on for that one.

Thanks for stopping by.:)