This past Saturday was the annual Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive event.
Every second Saturday in May, letter carriers in more than 10,000 cities and towns across America collect the goodness and compassion of their postal customers, who participate in the NALC Stamp Out Hunger National Food Drive — the largest one-day food drive in the nation.I've participated in this event for years, as have many of my neighbors, whether here in North Carolina or in my former home state of Texas. Hunger is pervasive here in North Carolina, just as our GOP overlords hoped it would be:
Led by letter carriers represented by the National Association of Letter Carriers (AFL-CIO), with help from rural letter carriers, other postal employees and other volunteers, the drive has delivered more than one billion pounds of food the past 20 years
According to the web site Hunger in North Carolina,
North Carolina and Louisiana lead the nation with the highest percentage of children under 5 years of age who are food insecure on a regular basis: in N.C. over 1 in 4. (27.6%)Think about that. "Food insecure on a regular basis". Childhood hunger is the "new normal". Regrettable, but that's simply the way that it is.
Paul Ryan wouldn't have it any other way. Even though he himself was a major beneficiary of the Social Security safety net, he's a regular Edward Scissorhands, shredding the net behind him, smirking as children, parents, veterans, and the elderly fall through the gaping holes.
Rush Limbaugh, always at the cutting edge of civic-mindedness, has suggested that kids hone their dumpster-diving skills. This, coupled with Newt Gingrich's child janitor scheme ought to solve this hunger problem with some good old-fashioned Dickensian practicality. In the rural parts of the county, however, the pickings for dumpsters are slim indeed, and school budgets have been cut to the bone such that even a push-broom is probably on each school's wish-list.
North Carolina's GOP legislators, under the tutelage of Art Pope, the Koch Brothers' other brother from another mother, have made headlines with their dystopian plans to drive our state to the bottom on every list of economic, social, medical, and educational achievement.
We're not taking this lying down, as our own DocDawg has so aptly chronicled in a diary yesterday.
But, as always... I digress. Let's get back to the food drive once again. Many of my neighbors dedicate their volunteer time to the local food bank which is the only thing keeping many folks in the county fed. Collecting and distributing food is a major endeavor, every day, every week, all year long. The letter carrier drive, laudable as it is, constitutes only a small piece of this daunting puzzle.
I spend a fair amount of time at our local post office, and asked one of the clerks how much food they collected this year. "About 11,000 pounds", they answered. "Way down from last year". Perplexed, I asked them what the 2013 total was. "Over 20,000 pounds. A LOT more."
"What accounted for the difference?" I asked, and in a nanosecond, two of the clerks said "plastic bags!" In previous years, they'd handed out sturdy paper bags for the customers along the postal routes. This year? Flimsy plastic bags of the sort that I absolutely despise. The bags held less food than the paper bags. People were wary of overloading them and tearing the bags.
Someone, somewhere opted for plastic. As a result, letter carriers worked just as hard for about half as much food, and hunger will be returning to the dinner tables of our kids a whole lot sooner.
The only thing that would infuriate me more would be finding out that the plastic bags were made from petroleum products that enriched the Koch Brothers. Or that the whole "flimsy bag" scheme was part of the Koch Brothers' deliberate plans to further destroy the remaining shreds of our economic and social safety net. Or that sub-minimum-wage workers in a dangerous Art Pope factory made the bags, returning at night to their own families, too impoverished to feed themselves or their kids.
Years ago, such thinking might have branded me a cynic. Nowadays, it's probably a rosy-eyed view of the true evil that steals food from the hungry child and enslaves the weary parent in a cycle of bone-crushing, soul-crushing misery.