Today I picked up 100 pounds of food donated by a Target store (Target is a great MN company!) and brought it to Interfaith Outreach & Community Partners' food shelf, a program that responds to emergency needs and creates opportunities for families in Hennepin county, Minneapolis. Basically, when the gov’t isn’t doing its job of protecting its people by making sure they don’t go hungry, good people and nonprofits like Interfaith Outreach step up. They don’t care what religion you are, just that if you and your kids are hungry, that you don’t stay that way.
My biggest concern in volunteering is that I am hungry and eating all of the time and I was worried I would snack on some of the food, which would have made me pure evil. Today I picked up 83 pounds of kale and other salady stuff which I’m not interested in, and 17 pounds of bread, which looked delicious, but I was able to resist.
Grocery stores all over the city have food to donate (it may be a damaged box or can or cosmetic food issue, but it’s still healthy and good), but they aren’t willing to spend money to deliver it to food shelves, so volunteers need to pick it up (Interfaith has 2,000 volunteers!). I was just going to do one day a month every Saturday morning, but then the guy said if no one picks it up, it just goes bad. So I’m doing it every Saturday at 8 a.m. I am not a morning person, but now I am one every Saturday. It adds up to about 10 hours a month, which is a big commitment for me. But I have a truck so I can take a lot of boxes, which pretty much makes me a superhero. Last year Interfaith served 2,184 families (6,190 individuals).
For those with less time, Interfaith also has one-time opportunities.
I don’t have a lot of hope that our new president will maintain government assistance programs, much less expand them, which is necessary, in my opinion, since we have people starving in the richest nation in the world. The U.S. spends 10 times more per year ($1.5 trillion) on corporate welfare programs (grants, tax breaks, or other special favorable treatment) than we do on actual welfare programs ($150 billion). The largest, wealthiest, most powerful companies in the nation get public assistance (Boeing alone gets $10 billion per year or so)
Meanwhile, here are a few facts about welfare recipients:
- More than 70% are working.
- 50%+ of fast food workers are on welfare.
- 46% of childcare workers receive some form of welfare.
- Undocumented immigrants are ineligible for all welfare programs.
Here’s the deal: If we made fast food companies, and many other U.S. companies (Wal-mart), pay a base, livable wage, the rest of us wouldn’t have to subsidize their workers. Meanwhile, McDonald’s reports a $5 billion profit per year, its CEO makes $10 million per year, give or take, but its workers make jack shit.