There I was, minding my own business, feet on my desk, eating lunch and scanning the news on my computer. Happily munching on my sandwich, and chips, I happened on an article about the new breed of clientele at food banks — middle class, middle-aged, sometimes out of work and sometimes among the working poor.
I’ll admit that I choked a little on those chips. These are people who used to donate to food banks, and now they’re on the receiving end. In short, they’re just like me. The line between us is so thin — in a heartbeat, they went from worrying about money to not having any at all.
The expression “there but for the grace of God goes I” comes to mind, but it’s not God’s grace that’s keeping me fed, nor is it the lack of God’s grace that landed them in this terrible situation. As Bill Clinton said during the presidential campaign back in 1992, It’s the economy, stupid.
The article happened to be about growing poverty in the Jewish community, but it applies to everyone. (There have always been poor Jews, despite the myth that all Jews are rich, but now more and more formerly middle-class Jews are seeking aid.)
My synagogue is having a food drive during Yom Kippur, the 25-hour period when Jews pray for forgiveness and fast. We Jews believe that we can ask God to forgive only those sins against God. For sins against other humans, we have to ask them for forgiveness.
But rather than go down to the Salvation Army and apologize to the people there for not doing more to help, I’m going to bring a big bag of food with me on Yom Kippur. If we all do that, perhaps we can make a dent in this terrible problem.
According to Feeding America, September is Hunger Action Month. So let’s take action.
If you want to read the article, you’ll find it at http://www.jta.org/news/article/2010/08/30/2740719/jewish-food-banks-serving-younger-more-affluent-clientele