The high price of fuel…

Have you ever had to make the unhappy choice of whether to put gas in your car to go to work or feed your child a healthy breakfast? It never occurred to me when I was raising my children. It wasn’t easy financially raising my kids, but as parents we never had to make that hard choice. It’s a sad reality, though, for many in our county – the “happiest place in the nation.” 52% of the people who receive food from the Food Bank have to make that choice, according to a recent survey we participated in by STRIDE of Cal Poly. That’s over 20,000 people who are face that decision from time to time. There is so much a family needs as essentials to survive – electricity, gas, telephone, clothes – we all know what it costs. A car is not a luxury in a rural area such as ours – especially when you have children. Then there are the costs of the car – the payment, license, insurance, maintenance, etc.

We hear about the cost of gasoline coming down around the country, but it doesn’t seem to be happening locally. Meanwhile, the consequence is real suffering for many. There is no heart in the supply and demand that drives gas prices. But there is heart in our community, and we certainly see that at the Food Bank. Some of that heart-filled compassion comes from the government that represents the people, but we know many of the human services are up for grabs in this election year. Some of it comes from family and friends. But when all else fails, there is the Food Bank, the agencies and schools we partner with, and especially the generosity of our community donors who make it possible for us to provide the programs that prevent people from having to not feed their kids well in order to have the means to get to work.

The fuel costs to operate our food distribution programs remind me of the hard choices each family has to make. It also reminds me of the generosity of those – each one of you reading this blog – who make it possible for us not to have to make the choice of not keeping those programs that give a heart to the world we live in.

Hunger Free Communities

We’re in another election year, and the gloves are off.  Negativity and demonization are the order of the day.  It’s contagious.  It demeans us.  It makes politics a dirty word.  But politics is not just about winning.  Groups of people don’t have to make decisions through a process that hurts and inflames.  Why not unite in a spirit of mutual respect, a desire for the good of all, and the effort to achieve common goals?  Sound like a fantasy?  Actually, it’s happening right here in San Luis Obispo County and around the country with regard to something most of us take for granted – food.
We at the Food Bank have been privileged to be the lead agency in the formation of the San Luis Obispo County Food System Coalition, a consortium of diverse organizations and the government that are often on the opposite side of issues, now working together on a Strategic Plan to address concerns in our county with regard to how food is grown, distributed, and consumed.  Is the abundance of food production in our county accessible to our local population of all income levels?  Does it promote local agriculture and the development of a diverse farming community?  Is it environmentally sustainable and restorative?  Does food production provide a just wage to farmworkers while making a profit for farmers?  Does it make our community healthier and strengthen the social fabric that holds us together as a society?  These are the questions the Food System Coalition will grapple with over time.  It will provide regular opportunities for stakeholders and experts in their fields to grow in their understanding of one another and form mutual friendships seeking a better quality of life for all of us – especially those who have no place at the table to speak for themselves.  In our effort to build a Hunger Free Community, we just might rid ourselves of dirty politics.
If you’d like to learn more, give me a call.  It’s refreshing to do politics differently – especially in an election year!