Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Dear Members of Congress...

Dear Members of Congress:

How about taking a walk in someone else's shoes?

You know, the folks who aren't dining out for lunch on lobbyist expense account dollars or dinner at some fancy foundation-palooza?

Instead, take a walk on the other side of the tracks.  In the honestly worn to a frazzle shoes of the hardworking folks in your constituency who are sometimes working two or three part-time jobs to make ends meet and still barely scraping by or the tattered hand-me-down sneakers worn by children in your districts or states who go to bed hungry every night dreaming of the free school breakfast that will once again fill their belly the next day when there is nothing left to eat in their own house.

And then think about this:  summer is coming for those children who, unfortunately, did not get to select the house into which they were born.  By threatening to cut off food program subsidies, what kind of summer will they have through no fault of their own but an accident of birth?

Do you think these children can afford to buy a lobbyist to badger you about their hunger and offer you campaign cash to get your attention?  Does that mean that their needs are less important if they can't?  Or does it make them more important?

Does that sort of question even get asked any more in D.C.?

I've written time and time again about children's hunger and poverty issues in this country.  They are real and they are incredibly difficult...and they touch a lot of families in this nation of ours.

Open your eyes and your hearts just a crack, Members of Congress, and honestly take a walk in the shoes of a child whose family has to live on a food stamp budget.  And then tell me that child's hunger isn't worth helping out.

This is my challenge to every elected official in DC:  live on a food stamp budget for a week.  Have your whole family do so.  No cheating.  No fundraising dinners at star-studded mansion soirees filled with canapes and cocktails subbing in as a meal unless you tally the costs in your total weekly food budget.

Really do it. 

Try to muster a little compassion instead of scorn for a moment when you think about the single, working mom whose ex-husband hasn't paid child support in years who needs this safety net to feed her kids.  And then consider all your speeches about people needing to just work harder as you threaten to cut her safety net and tell me that this choice is just a budgetary spending correction.  Because your budget correction is causing an enormous amount of panic among the hard-working poor.

Take time to really try to understand. 

You'll be a better person for it and maybe, just maybe, you can find a way to govern for everyone and not just for the people who can afford to buy a lobbyist to badger and bribe you about their issues.

Mario Batali spent all of last week on The Chew talking about the proposed cuts to food stamps and other food support programs for at-risk families in the next version of the Farm Bill.  Good for him.

If this issue bothers you, give your elected representatives a call.

The switchboard on the Hill is (202) 224-3121. The nice folks on the line can connect you to your Senators and your Representative.  Raise your voice.

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