In Texas a woman with two children shot herself and her two children during a dispute at a welfare office over food stamps. The woman, who had moved from Zanesville, Ohio shot was distraught over difficulties in obtaining welfare.
The Texas welfare system is reported to be backlogged by as many as 40,000 applications and the application process is also said to be lengthy and complicated.
Obviously the woman was deranged–she brought a gun to a welfare agency. That means she was seriously disturbed. It may be that nothing could have helped her short of commitment to an insane asylum and making her kids wards of the state.
Although there was little or nothing anyone could do for her, we are reminded that hunger in America is a needless tragedy. It has been estimated at Americans throw away 28 billion pounds of food per year and that the average person throws away over a half ton of food per year. Clearly there is so much food that no one need go hungry. In fact, if the only concern was getting enough calories to survive the day, no one need wait in line for food stamps. Free food samples are given away by manufacturers every day. Even more food is made very, very cheap or even free by coupons. Some people spend under $10 for hundreds of dollars worth of food by the use of coupons in the practice known as extreme couponing.
For those who don’t want to use samples and coupons there are food pantries as well as churches and charitable organizations.
There are farmers who accept gleaners after the harvest. Gleaners can pick up whatever crops are left in the field once the farmer is done. In addition, some restaurants and groceries sometimes give away food that is bruised but not spoiled.
Some folks actually advocate dumpster diving but I will not.
Almost anyone can get a free meal on his birthday and there are any number of other special national observances wherein free food is given out to special classes of people such as veterans.
There are organizations which engage in practices such as pay it forward and freecycle. The details of such organizations vary, but the gist for many is to give gifts to strangers–especially if you have receive such a boon yourself. Some call it random acts of kindness.
For a sane person another principle should be clear. If you are bold enough to pull a loaded gun and stick it in someone’s face, shouldn’t you be bold enough to do something far less dangerous which would hurt no one? As some bold bloggers have pointed out, given that most grocery stores have someone individuals, companies or corporations giving out free food samples every day of the week, any enterprising person could eat for free just by going to the store and taking the free samples that some poor, bored schmuck is almost begging people to take.
Believe it or not, there are some people so lost in despair who don’t realize how much bounty abounds in our society. If you know someone who is having hard times, or who hasn’t worked in a while or is having trouble making ends meet, you don’t even have to embarrass them or to be mean about it. Tell them you got a free sample of something and they should get some before it runs out. Send them a link to a website that lists a bunch of free sample sites. If they have trouble following instructions or don’t have their own computer take them down to the library and show them how to find and sign up for freebies.