Sunday, November 20, 2005

Can You Say...Turkeys?

I just heard this statistic, from Bread for the World, today: For the average household receiving foodstamps, purchasing the food needed for a modest version of the traditional Thanksgiving meal would use up one-eighth of its monthly food stamp allotment.

Oh...and our elected officials just voted to cut the budget for food stamps.


Norma said...

I will think about that one. But I suppose it depends on "traditional." This time of year, turkey is incredibly cheap.

I haven't kept track of these things in 30 years, but in the 70s when I did, our food budget was less than the gov't standard on which food stamps were based, and we ate well.

Many things are involved--being able to drive to a well stocked store, knowing how to cook, understanding nutritional values, and having items like refrigeration and stove and proper utensils.

I look forward to checking out your other entries. I'm also ELCA.

LutherPunk said...

Saturday we (the parish) participated in an annual distribution program for thanksgiving. A partnership between churches, non-profits and groceries have led to a cool program where families (pre-screened by case workers) come by the agency and have food loaded into their vehicles. They are also given a coupon redeemable for a turkey (and a turkey only) and a local grocery store. This is the fourth year we've done it, and it is always worthwhile.

LutheranChik said...

Norma: In my state the stereotypical food bank client is giving way to non-dysfunctional working households who simply can't make ends meet. Blue-collar jobs that have been the staple of our economy ever since the days of Henry Ford are rapidly disappearing, never to return -- today GM just announced another round of plant closings -- and we're also losing skilled white-collar my area a telecom company recently shut down an office, putting over 200 people out of work.

Whenever I'm tempted to start doing the value-judgment thing with food bank clients, I think about all the things that someone could say about me if I ever found myself in that position: That this is what I get for not being in a Traditional Family Household With a Male Breadwinner; that if I wanted to I could move to some other state and look for work, or if I'd majored in something more practical than liberal arts...yadda, yadda, yadda. Most of us are about one life crisis away from depending on the kindness of strangers, so I'm not going to overthink who is receiving my food donations, and why...I'm just glad to be on the giving side of the equation.

LutheranChik said...

Lutherpunk: This past month we've had Harvest Sundays where people bring groceries to church...our worship committee had bushel and peck baskets in our entryway for people to deposit their groceries, and then at the Presentation of the Gifts our little Sunday School kiddos brought the baskets up to the altar (creating many "Awwwwww..." moments in the process). I can't believe how much food we collected doing this...incredible. Our local supermarkets have been having a lot of multiple-purchase sales (buy 10 for $10 kind of thing) that aren't practical for a small household like mine, but this way I could split the purchases between what we could reasonably use/store at home and what we could give away, and it worked out really well. We're thinking of keeping this going on a monthly basis through the winter just because it's going to be a brutal winter for a lot of folks due to heating costs, layoffs, etc.

Anonymous said...

working as a cashier, it is sometimes disconcerting to see people using their food stamps to buy a Thanksgiving meal for what seems to be more than their own immediate family. I tend to think "gee, who lets the unemployed family foot the bill for the extended-family holiday meal?" I'd like to think that one should invite those relatives over for dinner, or at least say "hey, how about we all potluck this year" (in a tactful way).

In general, I also see quite a bit of pooling of food stamps during normal times (as in, 2 sisters shopping together, but separate orders. Same card used.) I don't know if is an act of generosity, if there are multiple families living together and pooling resources, or what.

Verdugo said...

LutheranChik's reference to recent cuts in the budget for food stamps reminded of Jim Wallis' apt statement that budgets are moral documents.

LutheranChik said...

One thing that really bugged me this year: We had a statewide program called Project Fresh that gave poor families vouchers to purchase fresh produce at farmer's markets. It helped these families, and also helped the farmers. Because of our state's economic doldrums, this program was cut.

Obesity, high blood pressure and other "lifestyle" health problems among vulnerable populations are often caused by a lack of access to healthy foods. Sadly, caloric, salty, high-fat/low-nutrition food is cheaper than high quality food. If you've ever seen commodity food distributions, a lot of those foods are, to put it bluntly, crap, especially if they make up the larger portion of a family's diet. Combine that with poor dietary education and a lack of easy access to a wide variety of foods, and you've got trouble in River City.

A very good book that addresses the ethics/theology of food and mealtime is Food For Life by Shannon Jung (Augsburg Fortress). I was part of an online book discussion with Dr. Jung, and it was very thought-provoking.

LutherPunk said...

Government budgets are indeed moral documents, just as church budgets are mission statements. Want to know what is important to a congregation, read the financial section of an annual report.