Friday, June 27, 2008

Hit-and-run activism

When I was in college, my friends, enemies and associates and I were often called on to take part in daylong "hunger strikes," overnight stints as homeless people, the list goes predictably on.

I see that a fellow journalist, Jill Silva, took the so-called food stamp challenge, to live for a week on the amount of food the stamps will buy you. In her case, her family of four had $129.50 to spend. Her coverage is worth a read, but begs a few questions from this editor.

What do you really learn by spending just one week in deprivation? More importantly, do food stamp recipients use only food stamps to buy food? If not, how much of their dough do they fold into their weekly allotment? What'll that buy you?

To really get the picture, it would be more appropriate to take the challenge for a month. That'd give despair a better chance to set in. The most interesting part of the talented Ms. Silva's piece is three of her four observations about the emotional and physical effect of doing the challenge:

The challenge felt like a diet. I spent nearly every moment I was not at work thinking about or preparing food.
It was exhausting to shop three times in one week to get the best deals.
I feared I would run out of food.

But it was still a worthy story, even if it was a little too close for my taste to the Global Awareness House holding a Go Hungry for Ghana night.

The most insightful aspect of the coverage, though, was this, the only comment left by someone who read her stories: " You are lucky to have a vehicle to get to the store."

1 comment:

lulu said...

and she's lucky that there was a store to go to. In most of the vbery poor neighborhoods of Chicago, the only place to buy food is at the 7-11 or similar corner store.