Over Easy: …one more thing
I have a personal story to tell this morning, following a day when most of us eat ourselves into a stupor and are thankful for friends, family, shelter, and enough resources to provide a Thanksgiving dinner. The personal story isn’t long, I simply had one of those occasional eye-opening moments.
Our local blood collection organization, South Bend Medical Foundation, has been offering incentives to entice people to donate blood. A few months ago it was a $10 Speedway gas card. This month it is a coupon for a free turkey from a local supermarket. I was overdue to donate blood anyway, so this prompted me do it a couple of weeks ago.
In December I always am invited to attend a Christmas luncheon the university puts on for retirees. Attendees receive a coupon from the same local supermarket for a turkey, plus potatoes, dinner rolls and a pie — the basics of a traditional holiday meal. I pass up the luncheon, and I always receive my coupon by mail a few days after the event. In the past I’ve returned the coupon to the university’s Human Resources office for donation to a local charity.
This year I was considering redeeming one of the coupons for a free turkey and preparing it later this winter for family or friends, and then maybe making turkey soup from a meaty carcass! Yum!
Then I read this…
…for millions of poor Americans who rely on food stamps, reductions that began this month present awful choices. One gallon of milk for the kids instead of two. No fresh broccoli for dinner or snacks to take to school. Weeks of grits and margarine for breakfast.
A Texas school is standing by its policy after cafeteria workers threw a sixth grader’s breakfast in the trash when they realized his account was short 30 cents.
There are 16.4 million American children living in poverty. That’s nearly one quarter (22.6 percent) of all of our children. More alarming is that the percentage of poor children has climbed by 4.5 percent since the start of the Great Recession in 2007. And poor means poor. For a family of three with one child under 18, the poverty line is $18,400.
To add to the misery, Washington has decided that the best way to tackle childhood poverty is to have poor kids eat less. Both parties already have agreed to cut billions from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (Food Stamps). As of November 1, payments dropped from $668 a month to $632 for more than 47 million lower-income people — 1 in 7 Americans, most of them children.
The latest proof of how indispensable those programs are came on Wednesday, when the Census Bureau released new poverty figures under its so-called Supplemental Poverty Measure (SPM). Poverty is high in the United States no matter how it is measured, but the SPM — which puts the overall poverty rate at 16 percent, or 50 million people — shows that it would be much worse if not for government aid.
…and to get your blood boiling, this…
Perhaps a fairer measure that may indicate whether a company can afford to increase its employees’ wages is the profitability of these companies. Net income in all but one of these companies has increased over the past five fiscal years. Kroger’s net income more than tripled since fiscal year 2008 to nearly $1.4 billion.
I think many of us who have enough food — I have never missed a meal because I couldn’t afford to eat — can get just a bit complacent in our relative comfort. This is definitely not intended to be a “Yay for ME!” story, but I am turning in both turkey coupons to be donated to the Food Bank of Northern Indiana, and I’ve also contributed to a special “double it” program at a local retailer that double-matches my contribution to feed the hungry. I hope those of us who are not struggling to feed ourselves and our families during the holidays can manage a small contribution to help those who are.
NOTE: I am in Indianapolis for Thanksgiving weekend, so I probably won’t be around Over Easy much this morning to host(ess). Carry on, I know you will!