I was at an event a few weeks ago when one of the speakers said "You don't need to finish all of your food, there's always more tomorrow."
The statement has stuck with me. I've carried it around, mulling it over, fuming about it. A little later, I engaged in a conversation on Facebook (not something I usually do because of heightened emotions and lack of actual conversation) about the proposed changes to the SNAP program.
How can we be so ignorant? Privileged? Arrogant?
To decide for someone else what food they are able to eat? To ignore hunger, food deserts, socioeconomic status?
I don't know where to begin. I suppose the first place is that I considered enrolling in the WIC program when William was born. We were eligible for a few months until Brad was promoted and then our income extended to just over the threshold. I refused. I didn't want to be considered weak or unable to feed my family. I was prideful and ignorant. In my situation, food was plentiful and thankfully my pride didn't get in the way of purchasing groceries. I had been a piece of the problem.
Throughout the course of my graduate training, I have had ample opportunities and requirements to consider how different financial and social situations affect food and health behavior. Those considerations, in fact, are practically the basis for every assignment I complete. I suppose I've been conditioned to think first about how a certain situation affects others before myself. I understand my privilege, I know how well off we are and I am trying to find a way to use my personal situation to educate, inform, and support in whatever ways I can.
I should have spoken up at that event. I should have asked what to do for those for whom there is no guarantee of food tomorrow? What of them? I should have used my voice, my education, my privilege to start a conversation or simply raise the topic so that maybe the thought could follow someone else around and spark a deeper conversation.
So I am choosing to start it here. To open up a conversation. A true conversation. Not one full of yelling and shouting and hurtling opinions. But one of active listening, compassion, understanding.