I must say that I was disappointed by many of the comments I read in response to yesterday's NYTimes.com feature story about the dramatic rise in the number of children who qualify for free lunches through the National School Lunch Program.
The recession was a devastating event for millions of our friends, neighbors and even family members. People lost their jobs, their homes. Factories and mills closed in town after town, leaving no work and no income for communities that thrived on those businesses. The average American family is struggling to get by.
Most of us have had to tighten our belts a little. But for middle class families, that belt-tightening means barely being able to afford rent, fuel and, of course, food. But what surprised me the most by so many of those comments was the expectation that those families should also be without electricity, telephones, heat or air-conditioning, cars and even "running water [or] flush toilets." They probably have refrigerators and bathtubs, too. Since when do such basics constitute a life of luxury?
The economic hardships of a nation are felt most by its people. It baffles me not only that some people cannot grasp that reality, but that they so quickly demonize people who are suffering due to economic circumstances beyond their control -- especially at a time of year when our compassion and generosity is supposed to be heightened by the holiday spirit.
I applaud the NYTimes readers, who understand the plight of families hurt by the recession, for speaking up to counter uninformed opinions. Please consider sharing your voice to help Feeding America inform others about the reality of hunger in America.
To those who suggest that we should let the people hurt most by the recession -- and their children -- just fall into poverty, hunger and despair, I say "Bah! Humbug!"
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