“All politics is local,” said Tip O’Neill years ago, a concept that can be paraphrased over and over. For example, Economy. Education. Religion. War. Crime. And Hunger. Particularly Hunger.
Lots of political leaders have been screaming about last year’s stimulus package, claiming it accomplished nothing except more debt; helped nobody. My son is manager of a food pantry in Austell, right in the center of last year’s devastating floods, but what I’m writing is about hunger, the hunger that impacts millions of families in this richest country in the world.
The hunger faced by millions of citizens who have never asked for assistance before, who lost jobs through no fault of their own, and find themselves living on the edge.
People who live just down the road, or across the street, or in our own neighborhoods. And many of them were helped directly by the stimulus program, in thousands of communities across this nation.
Austell’s Christian Action Mission Program (C.A.M.P.) has held four mass food distributions in the last year, handing out FDA food to anyone who stated that yes, they need help feeding their families. It was first come first serve, with cars lined up hours ahead of time.
This describes the first distribution in October 2009:
- The numbers tell the story only in the lines; it’s between the lines where we find context.
- Six hundred families in only three hours, and 55 pounds of food for each family, food they hadn’t anticipated.
- Seventy volunteers when only 35 had signed up, when only 35 were expected.
- Fifty chicken biscuits to feed the volunteers breakfast, and then 50 chicken sandwiches at noon, donated by a local restaurant happy to be a part of the effort, to do whatever they could.
- A total of 30,000 lbs. of food – your tax dollars at work.
- Sadly, there were more cars than boxes of food. Some had to be turned away.
- And for context: five men pushing an out-of-gas car, a clunker not traded in… because not to push that car all the way through the distribution center would have meant no food; breadwinners going home with empty hands.
After four distributions, the program is halted for the time being – no more funds for the moment. In all, C.A.M.P. distributed 191,400 pounds of food to 2,700 families.
I’m guessing that means something like 12,000 to 14,000 people going to bed without stomachs growling.
Not everybody who goes to bed hungry is trying to lose weight.