We are in the harvest season, and Thanksgiving is fast approaching.
And for many, it’s a cruel time.
The symbols of abundance fill the stores and decorate the windows. If you’re hungry, you might very well feel the decorations are mocking your situation.
The state and local economies have suffered less than many in the nation, but the reality is hard times are taking a toll on the families of many of our neighbors in Baton Rouge and in Louisiana.
Probably not since the Great Depression have so many social service agencies seen the families formerly counted on for donations at the door — to seek help for themselves, which they never thought they would need.
The Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank distributes about 1 million pounds of food per month, and the organization reports some of the large truckload donations from national sources have declined.
That means local giving remains vital to keep hunger from the doors.
In October, first lady Supriya Jindal toured food banks around the state to promote contributions to help those in need.
The problem, of course, is not limited to Louisiana. “Americans from all walks of life are now finding themselves in need of help for the first time in their lives,” according to Vicki Escarra, president of Feeding America, a national network of food banks based in Chicago.
There is a larger category of the “working poor.” Escarra noted demand at food banks has increased by 46 percent since the recession began in late 2007, with more than 1 in 3 families who get their assistance having one or more adults working.
The policy group Louisiana Progress used a wonkish term, “food insecurity,” to describe the large number of families worrying about their next meal. Even in good times for others, poverty can threaten the diets and thus the health and future prospects of Louisiana families.
This holiday season ought to be a great reminder, as we enjoy the blessings of capitalism, that we also are under a higher obligation to help those who are in need.