Commentary: Help us make a difference
If you're looking for me Wednesday morning you'll find me with my WKVT co-workers at the Price Chopper on Canal Street. We're doing our annual food drive for the Groundworks Collaborative and Project Feed the Thousands. In fact, WKVT has been doing this food drive the day before Thanksgiving even before there was a Project Feed. If we were going to carbon date this thing, our first food drive live broadcast took place at the Grand Union on Putney Road. But back in those days, getting 10 grocery carts filled with food was a huge win.
Fast forward to 2017 — 10 carts filled with food wouldn't make a dent compared to what we now collect in just the morning.
For the close to three decades that I've worked at WKVT and been doing food drives I've watch the needs change, the situations worsen and the actual need for organizations to merge in order to better deal with the issue. When I started, we were largely helping just the homeless population. They were easily defined and the problems were clear; if you didn't have a home you likely didn't have food. Those were clear, though not easy problems to solve, but you could solve them. When I first started doing work for the homeless in our area, they could seek refuge at Morningside Shelter. There they could find a bed and a warm meal. I watched the organization go from being at half capacity all the time to having a waiting list, and that was over a short period of time.
Now the need for these services spreads far and wide. It's hard to pinpoint any one issue. In the '90s, if someone was down on their luck, most likely finding them a job and giving them a place to rest while they got back on their feet was all it took. I don't mean to oversimplify it, but for the most part that's what it took. Now, however, the vernacular has changed; things like "the working poor," "food insecure," and "a neighbor in need" all have worked their way into the conversation. People who are working two and three jobs just to pay rent and mortgages are going hungry.
I believe it was Bernie Sanders who said, "Anyone who works 40 hours a week in America should not be in poverty." A truer statement has never been spoken.
I spent my childhood in Queens Village New York. All around me we had house painters, construction workers, fireman, policeman, accountants, bankers, secretaries. They all we're classified the middle class, they all made enough money to cover it all. This is no longer the case, this has all changed.
It's these changes that keep the need growing and the work we do all year round so important, not just this time of the year. So, as you are running around doing your last-minute food shopping please think about "the neighbor in need," which could literally be your neighbor; you never know anymore. If you drop off a food item or items today, be thinking about the families your kids play with, they could be in need; that co-worker you say "hi" to every day, they could be "food insecure;" the person putting $10 of gas in their car, they could be a part of the "working poor." The face of hunger looks like your face these days, which is what makes it so hard to identify the problem.
Typically, we raise as much food as we can on days like T-day (and that is still our goal). However, Groundworks purchases roughly 25 percent of the food they distribute to our "neighbors in need," serving over 1,000 individuals each month with supplemental food. As a result, they have an incredible ability to leverage donated dollars to feed the most people. If you're considering making a donation to support our area food shelves, please know that monetary support makes the biggest impact. For every $20 we raise today, Groundworks and other organizations can provide supplemental food for a family of four for a month.
So, we hope to see you today, again we start at 6 a.m. and go until 6 p.m.; that's a 12-hour opportunity to make a difference.
Fish is the opinionated morning jock on Classic Hits 92.7. He offers up his opinion at 7:50 a.m. every morning (Monday through Friday). Let's start the revolution. E-mail him at email@example.com. The opinions expressed by columnists do not necessarily reflect the views of the Brattleboro Reformer.
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