(originally published on greenheart.info)
“Poverty is a veil that obscures the face of greatness. An appeal is a mask covering the face of tribulation.” —Khalil Gibran
In two weeks, much of the United States will gather with their family and friends, eat turkey or other delicious, homemade meals, share conversation and shortly thereafter, realize that they ate too much—as they do every year. Thanksgiving is a holiday of feasting and a day when people take the time to reflect on their blessings throughout the year and be thankful for all the good in their lives. While everyone may find at least one thing for which to be thankful, everyone does not have pleasant stories to share or is fortunate enough to enjoy even a simple dinner.
Although it may seem to some that the economy is improving, the rate of poverty is increasing. While the middle class dissipates as the median household income falls, those in the upper end of the income spectrum gain, driving the rise in inequality. Last year, roughly one in four children lived in poverty—that rate is steadily increasing. When one thinks about the federal government’s definition of poverty—an annual income of $23,000 for a four-member family—a starker picture is painted. Conditions for these families continue to worsen. As of this month, the government has implemented their decision to cut billions of dollars from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)—Food Stamps—giving these struggling families and 16.4 million children even less to eat.
An increasing number of families in our country will not have a large feast—or even one small meal—on Thanksgiving. What can you do? While it would take the entire nation to systematically create economic change in this country, there are simple things every individual can be mindful of and do.
- Donate Food or Money
- Help feed struggling Chicagoans with the Greater Chicago Food Depository
- The 18th District’s Holiday Food Drive runs from November 1st to December 15th. Drop off non-perishable food items at the Community Policing Office, 1160 N. Larrabee. For more information, call 312-742-5778 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Buy a homeless person a meal.
- Check the Homeless Shelter Directory for a list of Food Pantries and Soup Kitchens in your town or community that you can help through donations or volunteerism.
We all have bills and expenses to pay, necessities to buy, and little time to spare, but we are generally better off and have more time than we think. If you see someone that needs help, whether monetarily or otherwise, think about a simple thing you can give in that moment; it may be a quarter, strong arms for lifting, or a smile—if you have it at the moment of need, give. We are all human and at some point, we all need something from someone else. Finally, please take time to think about, not just the economic state of this nation, but the state of the entire world and take a step to change it. People in other nations pay a great deal of attention to politics and social issues in our country because of the immense impact our actions have on people all over the world. Every time you buy a product, eat a meal, or vote, you have affected other people, whether for better or worse. We live in a world together; it is time we act as though we do.