Food Stamp Challenge: Day 7: The Light at the End of The Tunnel

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Jonathan Garfinkle

Executive Director, Jewish Family Service

November 20      1:30 p.m.

Light at the end of the tunnel…

Right about this time tomorrow, I’ll be sitting down to my first gluttonous, unrationed, unrestrained lunch in a week.  That will have followed a long-awaited, morning “break the hunger” meal probably more appropriately suited for a family of 8-10!  Why?  Because I can.  It’s funny how, at least for me, when a hardship or inconvenience nears its conclusion, the griping stops and the revisionist history begins.  “It wasn’t that hard…  I could have done it for another week… As long as you stay organized and conscious of your budget… Blah, Blah…”  But that’s not what I was saying four days ago, was it?  That was Saturday, Shabbat, when I was sulking that my $4.50 had already been consumed for the day before it even got dark outside.

So this morning, just as I’m feeling so virtuous, so disciplined and self-controlled, and so proud of myself for what I’m on the verge of accomplishing, I was handed exactly the dose of humility that I needed. 

Today is the day at JFS when our Food Pantry distributes enormous and plentiful Thanksgiving packages and food vouchers to about 300 families in need.  That’s food for over a thousand people who otherwise wouldn’t be able to have a proper Thanksgiving meal without this assistance.  Thanksgiving Distribution Day at JFS (always the Tuesday prior to the Holiday) inevitably fills me with a “cornucopia” of powerful, and in some respects, conflicting emotions.  On the one hand, the awesome image of the long line of our clients standing outside in the cold, patiently awaiting their turns to get in, get warm, and get their food packages and food vouchers, is heartbreaking. It’s a line of humanity running all the way down the street and snaking around the corner of Whalley and Westerleigh Avenues.  It’s a line that is reminiscent of the old chilling photographs we’ve all seen of the ubiquitous soup lines from the Great Depression era.  Bleak.  Tragic.  Just plain sad.

But on the other hand, it’s heartwarming and uplifting to know that, at least on Thanksgiving Day – at least on this one day - all of our families will share in the bounty that defines and symbolizes this iconic American Holiday. On Thursday, when most likely I will subtly unfasten the top of my pants, full and satisfied, and then stretch out on the couch right after the meal, I’ll know that many of our clients are probably

Then on Friday, or maybe Saturday or Sunday when the leftovers have all been consumed, I’ll return to my normal eating pattern, as will our Food Pantry clients. 

Where’s the light at the end of the tunnel for them?  

 

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