Monday, January 29, 2007

And the Cupboards Were Bare

There was a great article in the Sunday edition of The Daily World on the problems faced by our area food bank distribution center. According to Executive Director Jim Coates, "the center barely has enough to feed the more than 38,000 people — mostly children and seniors — each month that depend" on it. That's a lot of people for a 5-county rural area.

It seems just absurd to me that people in the United States would go hungry when our nation exports over $68.7 billion in agricultural products. Heck, in 2005, Washington State itself was responsible for a little more than $2 billion in such exports! [Note: The second link in this paragraph is to an Excel file.]

If we've got sooo much food that we can ship this much to others, wouldn't you think we'd have enough to feed our own people first?

Of course, as almost anyone should know, the movement of food has little to do with need and everything to do with profit. Despite the fact that adequate nourishment is a basic human need, it's treated like any other commodity!

For me, this illustrates yet another indictment on current modern society. In the land of plenty, hundreds of thousands of people go hungry each and every day. These people are forced to rely on food banks, soup kitchens and hand-outs -- At the same time, the Bush administration has cut back severely on the USDA commodities program!

I know that any conservative will tell you that the hungry need to go get a job (or a better job), so they can pull themselves out of their plight. That's a difficult task here in southwestern Washington where unemployment is high and living wage jobs are few. It's also hard to pull oneself up from your boot straps when you don't have the energy due to malnourishment or starvation.

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