Saturday, February 17, 2018

Food Boxes for People In Need

42 million Americans need food assistance. In America, often hailed as the land of opportunity, how should those in need be given assistance? If this were your homework assignment, or your career, what is the best plan you could develop? If you could consult the best minds, study the latest research, spend time with SNAP recipients, do everything you could to understand the issue and comprehend the needs of recipients, what ideas would you propose?

Someone's work has been completed, and their idea is to deliver food in a box. This VOX article by Jen Kirby gives a rundown on the idea and provides useful background on the SNAP program. The author offers many examples of why these so-called Harvest Boxes are a bad and harmful idea.

Sasha Abramsky describes the proposal as "a new kind of horrendous." She writes: "The Trump Administration’s reimagining of SNAP reduces food assistance to a humiliation ritual: recipients would take whatever they are given, in whatever condition they are given it, and would be expected to feel gratitude." The proposal indeed reveals negative beliefs about people in poverty.

Annie Lowrey's 60 questions on Twitter about the proposal serve as an effective take down. A sample:
Lowrey followed up with an article in The Atlantic entitled "President Trump's Hunger Games".

I'm reminded of Tressie McMillan Cottom's writing on how poor people are looked down upon. Her piece focuses on the purchase and display of status symbols. It's an excellent essay about how poor people get scrutinized and harshly judged for the clothes and accessories they purchase. She writes: "At the heart of these incredulous statements about the poor decisions poor people make is a belief that we would never be like them. We would know better. We would know to save our money, eschew status symbols, cut coupons, practice puritanical sacrifice to amass a million dollars." As part of her conclusion, she says: "You have no idea what you would do if you were poor until you are poor. And not intermittently poor or formerly not-poor, but born poor, expected to be poor and treated by bureaucracies, gatekeepers and well-meaning respectability authorities as inherently poor." The cruel views and hostile beliefs about poor people that she identifies in her piece can be applied to the Harvest Box proposal.

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