Several years back, I was going through a career change requiring significant life adjustments including a pay decrease not much above minimum wage. Week after week pay day deposits were devoured by an already overdrawn balance leaving little left for those bills that quietly kill. Many can relate to how a week feels soo much longer than 7 days when you are in the midst of a financial crisis. For those having faced financial hardship, the stress and strain can be all consuming.
Mounting credit card debt, merciless overdraft fees, final warning letters and praying at the pump that a gallon of gas can get you just a little further down the road. Anyone driving through life on perpetual E, the next break down seems imminent and always just around the corner.
Standing at check out with a basket of groceries and hearing the cashier tell you your card was declined is a moment anyone who has experienced it doesn’t soon forget. The astonished look followed by, “What, that’s impossible!”, fumbling for another card in your gut you know is maxed out, you tell the cashier “there must be some mistake”. To save face you shake your head and sincerely tell them you’ll be right back. Unfortunately, you won’t. Not today. In this frozen moment in time, it feels like everyone in the store has all eyes on you. This is the secret shame of the “have nots” and for those who have been there and able to get to the other side, we shouldn’t be so quick to forget and lose sight of those for whom need is still the normal.
Over the years my family has seen first hand how fragile “security” of all kinds can be in and out of our home. Volunteering with at risk youth, serving vulnerable seniors, working with low income families and fostering children reveals a hard truth that safety is never a certainty and the line between secure and scary is razor thin.
Food scarcity is a daily reality experienced by people worldwide. Hunger is all around us. In our communities, classrooms, next door and for some, the pain of hunger is very real and more personal than we may want to admit. COVID has given all of us a chance to experience a shadow of the hard reality of food and resource scarcity. This crisis which untold numbers of people have faced prior to the pandemic are even harder pressed coming through it. After life has returned to “normal” for many of us, we will be tempted to resume our former consumer comforts and pleasurable past times. Storming retailers for the latest spring styles, hitting the road, eating out and stocking up our food and supply reserves to fortify our defenses, because we can.
For 42 million people all across the country during the past year, the new normal was nothing new and unfortunately all too familiar. Few reserves, little hope and even fewer options than ever before.
It’s time to get in the fight. It is time to take a stand.
#HIDING IN PLAIN SIGHT
Statistics tell only a part of the story. Behind the data are real lives experiencing real life challenges. We should all take this pain personally. The numbers paint a picture of the present and continuing challenge we all can rise and fight together. With hunger hiding in plain sight, our fight is right in front of us.
The time is now to get in the ring.
Queue the theme to Rocky. Let’s get ready to rumble! Ding. Ding.