If you’re still wrestling and wrangling with leftovers from Thanksgiving, consider yourself fortunate.
This is the time of year when the grocery stores are humming, and recipes for holiday treats zing back and forth across social media.
We sing songs about food; entire TV specials are devoted to it. But recently, a stunning photo showing lines of motorists in Texas waiting for hours to receive food ricocheted around the world.
The sight of so many vehicles was almost biblical in scale, a shocking and stark reminder that not all is well in many parts of America.
An estimated 50 million citizens are struggling with food insecurity.
But we don’t have to look to Texas to see hunger. While many of us are stressing over how we’ll celebrate the holidays, some of our neighbors are just trying to keep their grandchildren’s stomachs from growling. In Cleveland, there are news reports that an estimated 400,000 people have received food donations this year. The city’s population is 381,000.
Pervasive hunger in this Land of Plenty is an anomaly that doesn’t make sense, particularly because most of those who struggle with food insecurity, work for a living.
In the richest country on Earth, it would not be an exaggeration to call this a sin.
LIke COVID-19, hunger has no ideology. It is impervious to race, gender, religion or politics.
It stalks the Red States just like it does in the Blue States.
A new report finds that Americans are struggling with hunger at the highest rate since the pandemic began.
But unlike the pandemic, hunger is solvable.
It begins with economic equity. After all, you tend to eat what you think ycan afford.
The Stanford Center of Poverty & Equity reports that wage inequity has only widened since 1990, with the gap approaching levels not seen since the Great Depression.
The center also reports that the difference between CEO salaries and that of the average worker has become a chasm. In 1965, CEOs made 24 times more than their subordinates. In 2009, that gap grew to 185 times more income for CEOS.
For the average working American, wages have stood still, even as less than two dozen people own more than half of the nation’s wealth — fortunes made from the work of others. Since March, as the rate of hunger hits a 22-year high, America’s billionaires have increased their wealth by $1 trillion.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that although checks are bigger, their purchasing power has remained static. In other words, what earning $2.50 an hour could purchase in 1964, requires earning $22.50 an hour in 2018.
In the most wealthy, accomplished, and advanced nation on earth, schools shouldn’t be tasked with feeding their students, yet here we are. If they don’t, literally millions of kids will go hungry because their parents don’t make enough money — so imagine what’s happening now.
While it is true that Jesus said we’ll always have the poor among us, he never said we shouldn’t try to do something about it. In at least two instances, the New Testament records his feeding large groups of people without once asking how they got themselves in such a fix.
In Stark County, we have perfected the art of stepping up, pitching in, and helping out. Schools, churches, synagogues, mosques, and nonprofits throughout the community constantly open their doors to feed the needy.
Last week, the Canton post of the Ohio State Highway Patrol and the North Canton Police Department conducted a Can the Cruiser food drive, collecting 793 pounds of food and $1,789.84 in cash. The food and money were donated to the Stark County Hunger Task Force.
Meanwhile, last week, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin returned nearly $500 billion in unspent relief funds to the Treasury, preventing the incoming administration from ready access to it. Not completely surprising considering that while he was a real estate investor, Mnuchin’s company reportedly foreclosed on a 90-year-old woman’s home because she owed 27 cents.
As we stress about our holiday budgets, remember those for whom hunger is a bigger, more immediate worry. The message of the upcoming holidays is better heard when it’s shared in ways that make others’ lives better.
Charita M. Goshay is a Canton Repository staff writer and a member of the editorial board.