I know, I know, Big Brother is too big, and it’s super fun to crow about what a vast improvement it is when government is shut down — no more panda cam, boo hoo hoo.
But for many people, the shutdown is no joke. Since our fearless leaders in Washington are covering themselves with glory (and I include both parties. I’m completely disgusted with every last one of them), there are plenty of Americans who face genuine hardship.
The WIC program will run out of federal funding in a few days, and various states may or may not have enough funding to continue the program. WIC provides nutritious food to nursing and pregnant women and their children ages five and under. I can clearly remember a time when our family — yes, while we were employed full time and living thriftily — absolutely depended on food from WIC. Eggs and tuna, cereal and milk is what we lived on, and if that had run out, we would have gone hungry.
School lunch programs will also lose their federal funding soon. Many kids depend on school lunch as their main meal of the day. (It doesn’t matter whether or not you think the government should be supplying lunch, or what you imagine you know about parents who have spent money on tattoos or whatever. We’re just talking about kids who need to be fed.)
The Department of Veteran’s Affairs will run out of funding, so they won’t be able to pay the pensions and benefits for veterans. And any government employee who’s been furloughed may certainly be low on food.
Please consider bringing a bag of shelf-stable groceries to your local St. Vincent de Paul food pantry, or whatever local organization distributes food to people who need it.
It doesn’t matter what you think about the proper role of government. Our response to hunger and need is not a political statement. We are just talking about people who will not have food in their bellies. If you have $5, $10, $20 that won’t break your budget, please please shop for hungry people next time you go shopping, and encourage your friends to do the same. Maybe explain to your kids that you’re going to skip dessert this weekend and use that money to buy food for people who would otherwise be skipping dinner.
If you don’t know where your local food pantry is, call your church — they will be able to direct you. Many supermarkets have donation bins, or you can add a monetary donation to your grocery bill.
Again: not a political statement. Just a work of mercy.
UPDATE: My sister Abby reminds me that many women and babies depend on WIC for formula, including expensive specialty formula for babies with various allergies. Another reader reminds me that it couldn’t hurt to ask your local food pantry if they are more in need of food or money donations.