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sweet charities introduction

Sweet Charities: Introduction

This book is about a group of modern-day Wenceslases, not kings or queens, but men, women, and children from all walks of life who provide food for hungry people through ‘emergency food’ programs: soup kitchens, food pantries, food banks, and food rescue operations. It is about the blessings, or in more contemporary language, the gratifications, that these emergency food providers find in their work. It is about the functions that this activity serves, not primarily for the destitute who use charitable food programs, but for the rest of us. And it is about the price that our society is paying for these blessings, about the ways in which ‘feeding the hungry’ distracts us from the urgent challenges of deteriorating economic security and accelerating inequality.

what is the true price of the emergency food system
What is the True Price of the Emergency Food System?
  • Define what is the emergency food system
    • Soup kitchens, food pantries and food banks
    • 1980 sudden, dramatic expansion of private charitable food programs
      • 1983 100 new emergency food programs opened in NY
      • 1980’s pantries went from 12 to over 100 in NY
      • Food rescue programs invented: City Harvest in NYC
  • Today: tens of thousands of emergency food programs in the US, providing food to 1/10 of the population
how does it impact all of us
How does it impact all of us?

Literally millions of Americans support these programs :

  • contribution of food, money time and effort.
  • Prepare and serve meals, deliver sandwiches, organize food drives, pick up and drop off leftovers from restaurants to shelters
  • Check out hunger at grocery store

(“It is an outpouring of compassion, both organized and individual, that would be the envy of most societies in human history: a ‘kinder, gentler nation’ indeed.”)

price tag kinder but less just
Price tagKinder but less JUST
  • The personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 (PRWORA) Overall decline in welfare monthly benefits (in 2006 dollars)[23]
true price
True Price
  • Cutbacks and reductions in public assistance benefits
  • Declining wages at bottom of pay scale
  • Increasing shelter and needs cots
  • Growing reliance on layoffs and downsizing to increase profits

Are all reducing people to destitution and sending them to the food lines.

argue that efs pulls us away from ending hunger and homelessness
Argue that EFS pulls us away from ending hunger and homelessness
  • ‘moral safety valve’
  • Reduces discomfort evoked by visible destitution—creating an illusion of effective action
  • Creates culture of charity that normalizes destitutions and legitimates personal generosity as a response to major social and economic dislocation.
  • Reinforces the ideology of voluntarism that obscures the destruction of personal rights.

“We are becoming attached to our charitable food programs and increasingly unable to envision a society that wouldn’t need them. We are so busy building bigger, better programs to deliver food to the hungry, and to raise the funds and other resources necessary to continue and expand our efforts in response to the rising need, that we are losing sight of both the underlying problem and its possible solutions.”

the city that ended hunger can it happen here
The city that ended hunger?Can it happen here?
  • http://www.yesmagazine.org/issues/food-for-everyone/the-city-that-ended-hunger