The Food Bank (13/12/2013)

The Food Bank

” Shelter line stretchin’ ’round the corner 
Welcome to the new world order…” 

Springsteen – The ghost of Tom Joad

It’s been our custom, for a number of years, to dispense with the sending of christmas cards and, as an alternative, make a donation to one or more worthwhile causes. This year we decided to put together a parcel of items for one of the local food banks.

Supporting the food bank isn’t a seasonal thing for us: it’s something we do throughout the year; something about which I have mixed feelings. While I’m happy to help those less fortunate (and they are a large and growing number) I find it a sorry state of affairs that  – here in the affluent and so-called first world – there is this mounting dependency on voluntary organisations to provide even staple foodstuffs and basic supplies. Have we really come to this? Apparently we have.

Jo has become accustomed to hearing children, at the school where she works, mentioning that their families use the food banks. More often than not, these are working families; ones where ‘working’ means a short hours/low pay contract. There’s no element of shame or embarrassment in these conversations, nor ought there to be; any shame and embarrassment should be felt elsewhere, not least by the career politicians, of all colours, with their desire to be in control of everything and accountable for nothing. Authority without responsibility: that’s as good a definition of tyranny as you’ll find anywhere.

Then I remember, with some discomfort, that the total of our food bank contribution came to less than I’d paid for a single merino base-layer, earlier in the day. Sometimes we all need to look again at our priorities; if we’re all in this together, there’s some in deeper than others.