Most Americans were dismayed when the news on Thursday told of the Republican members of Congress who voted to reduce food stamps benefits by forty billion dollars. I admit, readily, I am no longer affected by the shenanigans of politicians but this for me was a new low.
It’s hard not to say that while some may be experiencing an economic comeback following The Great Recession,that there are still many people for whom the bottom is still out. I know this for a a fact as I see them every Thursday. For some in this group, the bottomless pit is a reality from which they will never resurface.
Unlike politicians, who get a chance to lunch on caviar and sweet meats paid for by large corporations and the backs of hard working Americans many of whom have been displaced through high unemployment, an unstable job market, loss of income, foreclosed homes, and relocation etc, my Calcutta residents have to make do with the generosity of food banks.
The politicians whom they elected drive around Washington DC in chauffeur-driven cars by people who earn minimum wage, dine on filet mignon while swilling warm dark red whisky and drinking the best brandy in expensive snifters, while I and many others across the country prepare to meet the needs of the American people, by donating our time and energy in helping in the distribution of food.
The church I partner with is located in an economically depressed neighborhood in Detroit. I recently joined with them, but was a part of the initial startup movement to begin distributing food some three years ago. Initially the idea was to distribute food to seniors who were stuck on a fixed income. When the economy bottomed out, a new demographic replaced the seniors as younger and middle-aged people began to come in.
We increased the request for more food. Due to the church’s limited resources, deliveries are made on the same day the food is distributed. So early on Thursday mornings a group of volunteers gather to receive the food from the food bank truck and to prepare to distribute grocery bags filled with food.
It was my Mom who encouraged me to come back and take a look. I can tell you that my eyes filled with tears when I saw what the volunteers had been doing. It sounds like a simple operation but it is labor intensive and requires planning and execution. All of which (for the reading pleasure of Rep. Eric Cantor) is done by volunteer time who are not paid but who give up a part of their Thursday mornings to be there. Many like my Mom work in the evenings to ensure they can be there for the folks.
Next time you hear a politician say people are lazy, consider this an invitation to visit my Calcutta. Write to me and I will provide street name and address of the local pastor.
While politicians are living high on the hog, the residents of my Calcutta are getting ready to enjoy the largesse of supermarkets who donate unused portions of food. Volunteers are kind and thoughtful as they ensure that each bag is given, a balanced diet of protein, vegetables, fruits and carbohydrates as the food supply allows.
It amazes me how much food is wasted here in America. Supermarkets have an overflow of prepared food as well as pastry and dessert items. Some days, the prep room smells sweet from the flavors of cakes, pies and cookies.
I am making light of this as what I am masking is the desperate need that is driving the demand for food. Every week we serve the same people. It means we are their primary source of food. Most of them are on food stamps which run out after the first week of the month. The remaining weeks of the month, the church’s food distribution becomes their source of food.
What now, Mr. Politician who has decided to cut food stamp benefits. Maybe I should tell you what the residents of my Calcutta look like. I did say I was right smack in the middle of Detroit, didn’t I? There are 30 white residents of my Calcutta. Each week I see a new face of someone who recently moved in the past week. They are invariably white.
Wanna tell them now that they are lazy, Mr. Cantor? They look just like you. Some are brown eyed, with brown hair but most are blond, blue eyed who are broken emotionally and financially and who are deserving of human dignity. It is with great honor that I return week after week to look into their faces, smile,encourage and pray with them with hope for a better tomorrow.
As soon as this new legislation goes into law, our demand for food will increase. We will have to make sure we are secure so people won’t become desperate and act accordingly. A request for an additional truck of food will be placed with the food bank to accommodate those who will loose their benefits due to your legislation. Hopefully the food bank will able to comply with our request.
I am painting a picture for you all to see the effects and ramifications of your thoughtless policies and it’s effects on the people of America. I know how you live. I have been there. I have seen both sides of the coin and it’s hard to imagine the depravation that I am talking about.
It’s doubly hard when you fly in private jets paid for by greedy corporate CEO’s who continue to milk the public purse by paying less of their share of taxes and by even greedier politicians who are perhaps desperate themselves to ensure their families never find themselves amongst the people in Calcutta’s all over the country.
My, my, my. What an America we have created here. Are you loving it? I know I am not and neither are the residents of my Calcutta. Perhaps, it would behoove you to think of the social ramifications of the legislation you have crafted.
I know you wanted it to affect African Americans who had voted for Barack Obama, but now the indignity caused by your depraved indifference has spread to members of your own. What say you now.
Oh, by the way, you are welcome to visit my Calcutta anytime. Your security is entirely up to you. But I would advise an adjustment to your dangerous policies of further disenfranchising even more Americans.
Believe me, those policies can wait, truly they can.
Remember To: Never Look Back
Harriet Cammock is the author of Through The Fire and is the host of The Harriet Cammock Show, for more information visit her web site at www.harrietcammock.org