We all know the economic situation sucks. We all know people who have lost their jobs, families – often in our own neighborhoods – who have lost their homes, their means of transportation, their health care, their sense of self-worth and ability to meet basic needs. We all want to help, but if you know anything about “the system,” you also know that politics only decrees focus. It doesn’t exist to actually help people, it exists to see how many hoops they’ll be able to jump in order to get the bare minimum.
And if you’re at all like me and ever dealt with “the system” yourself or for a family member, you also know a good handful of people who will live in a cardboard box before hitting the shelter, will walk double-digit miles to work rather than tell anybody the car’s been repo’d, will go hungry because there’s just no way to get to the county seat on-demand to jump hoops bi-weekly just to get food stamps. Why, you might even know some who have been given help, but are just too embarrassed to use them at the grocery store.
I’ve worked with several hunger projects over the last quarter century, usually grant-supported non-profit based or purely local and supported by area churches, community groups, fraternal organizations and businesses. They all try to reach the people who need help, and the people involved are more than willing to help with paperwork or details in order to make the hoop-jumping easier. But they all know, as I know, that there are many who aren’t reached because they won’t or can’t jump hoops. For any of a number of reasons they don’t want us to know.