The current occupant of the White House has a new plan to feed poor people: Send them boxes of cheap, high-fat, high-carb, low-nutrient foods.
Again and again, I’ve seen the idea compared to Blue Apron, a gourmet food vendor that sends out boxes of food together with recipes for fabulous meals.
The comparison is wrong. The only thing this idea has in common with Blue Apron is that it’s delivered in a cardboard box.
If you get food from Blue Apron, you get a choice of foods, and the foods are fresh, not canned. You aren’t shipped canned peas and carrots, boxed milk and cheap cereal.
You don’t get steak tartar, you get Hamburger Helper, and probably just a cheap knock-off of that.
The right complained about the “nanny state” when Michelle Obama started advocating fresh, wholesome food for children. But now they want to choose what food poor people should eat, and what they’re choosing is bad food.
While advocates work to get fresh food to people in poverty, many of whom don’t have ready access to a supermarket, this administration is ready to squash these efforts in favor of boxes of unhealthy crap.
Research has shown again and again that processed food is less healthy than fresh food, that a diet high in processed foods (white flour, white sugar, salt, hydrogenated oils …) leaves us more vulnerable to Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and several types of cancer, including colon and pancreatic cancer.
But when we consider poor people as inferior, when we think we’re more worthy of anything than another human being, we are the ones who are morally bankrupt.
Jesus didn’t feed the thousands canned tuna on stale white bread, he fed them fresh fish and bread. When he went to the wedding in Cana and the host ran out of wine, Jesus turned water into fine wine, not high fructose corn syrup-laden soda. Read the passage in the Gospel of John, Chapter 2.
Our public policy (our failure to raise minimum wage to a living wage, for example), puts people in poverty. Minimum wage right now is about one-third of what it takes to live comfortably. Housing subsidies don’t even come close to serving the people who need help to stretch their meager wages. Child care subsidies have years-long waiting lists. Food stamps are a fraction of what it really costs to supply children (and adults) with the nutrition they need. Ask anyone who receives them. They give people about $5 a day. Try and feed yourself on that.
As food advocates work to get fresh fruits and vegetables onto the plates of children, this clown announces poor people only deserve canned food, and that the government should choose what they’re allowed to have — and that it should be junk food, as though poor people are just junk.
Meanwhile, those of us with privilege, those of us who still hold onto some semblance of a middle-class income, donate our cast-off clothing, our broken toys and chipped dinnerware, and we think the poor should be grateful for that.
We blame poor people for their own poverty, while we knock them down and apply our boot heels to their necks. We deny them healthy food, an equal education, safe housing, health care and a living wage and then call them lazy and accuse them of trying to get something for nothing.
The real culprits are the very wealthy who are buying up members of Congress and grabbing all the nation’s wealth for themselves. They don’t till the soil or harvest the crops, they don’t manufacture anything, they don’t make or serve food or clean up after themselves, they just take. And to justify their hoarding of our nation’s wealth, they spread propaganda about how the poor are robbing us blind. They use scandals to distract us while they pick our pockets.
This whole idea is deeply, deeply immoral. It is theft from the local farmer who grows and sells crops at tailgate markets that accept SNAP cards. It is theft from people who are struggling and it is the slow poisoning of poor people, who, after all, are still people. We all deserve to eat healthy foods and we deserve the dignity of choosing what foods we will eat.
This is not Blue Apron. Stop comparing the two right now.