Republicans Think People Aren't Entitled to Food

[Content Note: Food insecurity.]

Back in January, I posted an item about the reduction in federal funding for food stamps putting an incredible strain on food banks in the US. Since then, two million unemployed people have lost their unemployment benefits, increasing the number of people experiencing food insecurity and straining food banks even further.

The "recovery" from the Great Recession hasn't trickled-down to the hoi polloi yet, because it's never going to. Still, the 1% is doing pretty great after this massive redistribution of wealth upwards, and conservatives tell us that we don't need government funded and managed social programs because charity will fill the gaps, so everything should be terrific, right?

Of course not. Because that is a conservative fantasy used to justify gutting the social safety net. All that has happened in that more poor people are putting a greater demand on limited resources, while the wealthy shout at them about fucking bootstraps.

Because Republicans think people aren't entitled to food.

In New York City, one of the wealthiest cities in the world, 1.4 million people "now rely on a patchwork network of 1,000 food pantries and soup kitchens across the city to eat. That represents an increase of 200,000 people in five years—straining the charities that are trying to help."
"It's an astounding surge in need, and it's because it is so hard for people to find jobs, or find a decent-paying job. They are turning to us for emergency help," said Msgr. Kevin Sullivan, 63, executive director of 90 free food outlets run by Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York.

"So many people, too many people, don't have enough money to pay for rent and also eat."

...From soup kitchens in the Bronx, to mobile food markets on Staten Island and in Brooklyn, to pantries in Queens, the story is the same: lines stretching longer and longer, people arriving earlier and earlier, even in the depths of winter.

"Our Lady of Grace, in the northeast Bronx, saw the number of new households double in November—a 100% increase," said Paul Costiglio, spokesman for Catholic Charities. "Across the board, our programs are reporting a continued increase in the number of working people, unemployed and families."
What happened in November to cause such a steep spike in need? Food stamp benefits were cut by $5 billion. It was the biggest cut to the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program in its 50-year history, even as more people in the US than ever before have become reliant on them.
Food pantry and soup kitchen operators said the impact was swift and dramatic: Although the economy had rebounded since the financial crisis, those at the bottom of the ladder had not fully shared in the recovery.

...Nearly every emergency food program in the city has struggled in the wake of the November cut in food stamps.

"Eighty-five percent reported a drastic increase (in clients) in November 2013 compared to November 2012—and remember we'd already set records that month because of Hurricane Sandy," said Margarette Purvis, president of the Food Bank for New York City.

Nearly 50% of pantries and soup kitchens ran out of food in November, and an additional 25% had to move to smaller rations, said Purvis.
The situation in which we live is this: We have a major political party who tells fairy tales about charitable giving being more effective than government; we have a broken government that indulges these fairy tales; we have an increasingly wealthy ruling elite who is actually the least likely demographic to engage in proportionally generous giving, because they are largely deeply invested in narratives of personal success without help and are largely experiencing class insecurity about losing their wealth despite the fact their wealth continues to increase; we have charities that are struggling to keep up with the demand that the annihilation of New Deal has created; we have millions of people in the wealthiest nation in the history of the planet who are struggling to get access to food; and instead of dealing with all of this honestly, we tell national lies about bootstraps and (allegedly) livable wages and earning what you deserve and the "American Dream."

And, so that people can feel better about not giving a shit about food insecurity and the people who experience it, we make up stories about the type of people who need food assistance.
"Contrary to popular belief, the homeless are the smallest population we serve. The No. 1 group is women over the age of 50—it's Grandma who has to go to the soup kitchen to eat," said Purvis.

Veterans, children and working families aren't far behind.
And contrary to even more popular belief, it's not a bunch of moochers and takers, looking for an easy scam.
"Would you wait two hours in the freezing cold or stand in a long line just for a little bit of food if you didn't absolutely have to?" one pantry volunteer scoffed, when asked about vetting.
So much for that whole "lazy" line of bullshit, too.

The truth is this: Republicans think people aren't entitled to food. And they tell themselves, and their rich donors, and their cruel base, and anyone else who will listen, an intricate web of lies about the people who need food, in order to salve whatever shreds of consciences they may yet have, and in order to obfuscate from this truth, which I will repeat again and again until it is no longer true: Republicans think people aren't entitled to food.

Shakesville is run as a safe space. First-time commenters: Please read Shakesville's Commenting Policy and Feminism 101 Section before commenting. We also do lots of in-thread moderation, so we ask that everyone read the entirety of any thread before commenting, to ensure compliance with any in-thread moderation. Thank you.

blog comments powered by Disqus