RICH JAMES: Food banks worth far more than a hill of lima beans

2013-12-04T00:00:00Z RICH JAMES: Food banks worth far more than a hill of lima beansBy Rich James nwitimes.com
December 04, 2013 12:00 am  • 

I haven’t gone to bed hungry since the night mom served liver and lima beans for supper when I was a kid.

Although she gave me heck that night, I still don’t eat them today. I’d rather chew on cardboard.

I suspect the majority of people in Northwest Indiana never have had to deal with hunger. Not even for a day.

To most folks, hunger is little more than a word in a headline about depleted shelves at area food banks.

Part of the increasing demand on the food pantries and soup kitchens served by the Food Bank of Northwest Indiana is the cut in food stamps.

The 2009 boost in food stamps expired last month. Why Congress allowed that to happen is anyone’s guess.

Perhaps some congressmen, who never have experienced hunger, just wanted to boast they are reducing government spending, the less fortunate be damned. Those likely are the same officials who oppose an increase in the minimum wage.

Anyway, the reduction in food stamps has increased the demand on food banks, said Megan Sikes, spokeswoman for the Food Bank of NWI.

I suspect there is a misconception that those who turn to food pantries for help are unemployed or elderly on fixed incomes or bums.

More and more homeowners with jobs are finding a need for food pantries to make ends meet.

I can’t think of many things more dehumanizing than standing in line for food.

But I guess what really bothers me is why food pantries have to go hat-in-hand begging for donations with which to feed the hungry.

One would think that in this most bountiful of lands there would be something to eat for all.

There always will be people hurting financially. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t have the ability to take care of them.

U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly, D-Ind., donated the $5,000 he was paid during the government shutdown to food banks around Indiana.

Donnelly could afford to do so, but the point is that he did it.

Where are the rest of us?

One would think that anyone who pays $5 for a pack of cigarettes could donate the same amount to a food bank.

Or how about those who go to area casinos? Maybe they can set aside a buck or better for food banks every time they drop $20 or $50 or $100 or more into slot machines.

If you spend $20 on a case of beer, how about another dollar for food banks?

And what about the Republican and Democratic parties that serve food aplenty at fundraisers to raise money to win elections to serve the people. Is it above them to collect money for the hungry?

After all, for some, a bowl of lima beans can be just as enticing as filet mignon.

Rich James has been writing about state and local government and politics for more than 30 years. Email him at rjames@219.com. The opinions are the writer’s.

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