It is an issue of private shame


James Harrison, New Statesman: The Foodbank Dilemma:

“…A young clean-shaven man leads an older, grey-haired, battered-by-life-version-of-himself to where Tony stands. Tony greets them kindly and asks the younger man who referred them to the food bank. There’s a moment of startled silence. Then the younger man says gruffly, “It’s not for me, it’s for my dad”, and looks down at the floor. The colour flushing his face makes clear his embarrassment…”

“…School holidays are the hardest time because you have to feed your children three times a day. That’s why I am coming here now…”

“…Normally I eat porridge in the morning to fill myself up and then often I don’t eat at all myself in the evenings. But today is the start of the kids’ holidays and so they don’t get the school meals, they have to eat all their food at home and I just can’t manage…”

“…Not having enough food is a very private issue…It is an issue of private shame. People eat mostly within the home, and so what people eat, and the ways in which it is inadequate, people keep to themselves. And it is an issue of private suffering. If you are not getting enough food, or the right kind of food, you absorb the misery yourself. The cost is embodied by you. It is your body that becomes unhealthy…”

“…people turned to food aid as “a strategy of last resort”, when they have exhausted all other possibilities, including cutting back on food and turning to family and friends. No one I met used a foodbank lightly. Louise had been skipping dinners for months before she went to Coventry Foodbank. She finally attended so she could feed her children during the school holiday…”

“…I saw a young woman break down into floods of tears when the food was brought out. She was overwhelmed by the idea that she could feed her family properly that night…”

“…Another man, too shy to talk to me, told the volunteers he had walked miles across the city to get a referral and then a few miles more for his food that afternoon. He didn’t have enough money for the bus fare. He sat, exhausted, cradling a cup of tea, rocking backwards and forwards, before making the same trip home again. This time laden down with his bags of food…”

“…I am down to the last pound or so on my electricity card and I am really starting to worry about that. And so I have been going to bed really hungry for a week or so. It’s my second trip. I was really worried about coming the first time. I was ashamed, but everyone has made me feel so welcome, and told me not to worry. This time I feel more comfortable. I hope my benefit issues will get sorted out soon so I don’t have to come again…”

Read full article here: The Foodbank Dilemma:

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  1. Heartbreaking – and speaks to the unacceptable fact that people in this country are literally going hungry but for the grace of others.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I understand the issue of pride: mine has taken a real hit over the years–no one should be hungry

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Randstein says:

    It’s hard to imagine starvation in the midst of plenty. Nothing strips our humanity away faster than want for food and drink.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. We need to care for our own, no child should go hungry here while we flood millions to other countries, I am not opposed to helping the world, I am opposed to those who would stop food and shelter for the homeless here, are you listening tea party.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I ache for the inequity in this world…

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I always admired Harry Chapin for bringing awareness to hunger, initiating local food banks on Long Island and always living close to his roots, giving away most of the money he made.

    Hunger will never leave us, but we can be grateful for those who dedicate their lives to helping alleviate some of the hunger.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Dionysus Amber says:

    Reblogged this on Dionysus Amber ☮♡✡ and commented:
    A very Important issue

    Liked by 1 person

  8. i understand this and can appreciate all of the feelings involved. food is one of the basic human needs, and yet so hard to ask for. it is up to us, who have enough to eat, to ensure that others who don’t, get what they need.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. It IS a shame that anyone should go hungry in this world, this country…which is why it is so hard for me to encounter the homeless without doing something, anything, to try and help. There was a time in my own life when things were so bad that I only ate one time each day, so that I could feed my children what I knew they needed. I know what it is to be hungry…and it shouldn’t have to happen to anyone.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. This is an important issue to address and we are all responsible. There are wonderful angels around assisting those in need. If we can give in any capacity, we are making a difference. Thanks David for reminding us.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Karen, your thought reminded me of this passage I just read:

      “Moments of doubt are inevitable, especially in a culture that embraces cynicism and mocks idealism as a fool’s errand. But if we look at life through a historical lens, we find that the proverbial rock can be rolled, if not to the top of the mountain, then at least to successive plateaus. Indeed, simply pushing the rock in the right direction is cause for celebration. History also shows that even seemingly miraculous advances are in fact the result of many people taking small steps together over a long period of time.”

      ~ Paul Loeb, The Impossible Will Take a Little While: A Citizen’s Guide to Hope in a Time of Fear

      Liked by 1 person

  11. This is a very moving article. I read the whole piece and was shocked to find that this was in England which is well known for its Social Security benefits. We tend to imagine that hunger is a Third World problem, but it’s crept much closer to home. So sad, but it’s great that the problem is being addressed.

    Liked by 1 person


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