|Happy Boxing Day, y’all.|
Well, now that the hubbub of Christmas is nearly over, I am left with just under a week before the SNAP Challenge begins. I’m still excited about the prospect of it, feeling more prepared for it, and am so encouraged by the support that many friends have given me- both morally through tips on previous blog/social media posts, and through donations to my Crowdrise site.
Another element that I have encountered in this process has been challenge. And let me be clear: I LOVE that. I’ve long been someone who desires a break from monolithic thinking, and if someone sees a crack in logic I’m using, I’m happy to debate it with him or her. So I was pleased, if slightly uncomfortable (which is good!) when a friend of a friend claimed to not understand the point of what I was doing. His argument? To try and carry on a normal life while doing something so inconsistent with the remainder of my surroundings (gainful employment, other needs fulfilled, even in the position to partake in activities of excess like half marathons and work potlucks) wouldn’t help anyone.
After thinking about it for a while and responding to the person in question, I came to my own understanding on what he was saying. I agree and disagree. I agree, there is an element of privilege associated with the very decision to undertake something like this. Further, to isolate hunger from other elements of poverty is unreasonable. I agree with that as well.
But the goal of this is to experience something a little more personal, rather than showing the world “I can eat less and still be okay!” I realize that I have access to things in a position of privilege that most don’t have. I have planned test menus and gone to the grocery store to see how much they would cost. How did I plan? Pinterest, online flyers, and a smartphone. How did I get there? Public transportation, subsidized in part by my employer. All luxuries that may not be at the disposal of someone on food stamps. I don’t deny that there is a level of privilege innate to be participating in this self-imposed challenge.
|Feast in the Great Hall? Who wouldn’t love that?|
However, I don’t think that takes away its value. For my part, there are some things that have been difficult for me to come by. Food has never been one of those. Simply put, I don’t know what that’s like. But as a strong advocate for food security, I want to. I want to be able to help people who don’t know where their next meal comes from not from a sense that it’s unfortunate, but with an understanding that it is difficult. I may not be able to understand other symptoms of poverty, and I accept that. But when I think about the range of human needs, food is a basic one, nearly the most basic. I want to make a change in the world surrounding this basic need, and it can only start with me. I don’t expect to move mountains over the course of 30 days. I can advocate for a cause, I can learn more about it, and I can come to an understanding of the cause that I support. And I can come away from this with an appreciation for what I have.
That final point, appreciation, spurred me to finally put fingers to keys on this long-anticipated post after a compilation from one of my new daily sources of “news”, Buzzfeed. Often a source for a laugh in a quiet part of a workday or discussion with a group of friends, it was a source of frustration this morning as I read “People Who Didn’t Get What They Wanted for Christmas“. I won’t excerpt it here, but suffice it to say that the flippancy with which these people (teenagers, granted) treated the holiday horrified me. Similarly, I’m particularly rankled by post-Christmas sales this year. What better way to cap off a day in which many have acquired stuff, but with more stuff? This is not the place for me to rail against the capitalist tilt that the holiday has taken, and I won’t. But what I will say is that being able to have food on the table multiple times a day, without fail or worry, is its own gift. And by the end of January 2013, I hope to have a more real appreciation for that gift. I hope you’ll continue to follow along.
The Pantry Problem
One thought on “Pondering Privilege: The Journey Toward SNAP Challenge 2013”
Amma, Out of all the posts I've read from you on the SNAP Challenge, this is one has struck a chord. Privilege is something that is difficult to teach students. The experience of putting yourself in someone else's shoes is invaluable and taking the time to do what you're doing is awesome. You have inspiring me to pass some of this information along to students here, and see what comes of it. 🙂