This morning, I left my house (after breakfast) feeling my hunger not totally satiated. I mean, I woke up hungry and I was no longer straight-out hungry. But, neither was I fully satisfied. I am expecting this is a mix between just a mental state (I’m more aware of and anxious about food this week, and I’ll own that as my own personal stuff) and it’s also probably partly about my not getting my first cup of coffee in the morning (since I failed to pay for coffee out of this week’s limited budget).
As I drove I thought, well, but that’s the point, isn’t it? That I’m not satiated, I’m not satisfied. Because I’m not. I’m not okay with where our food policies stand right now. I don’t like knowing the hard choices people have to make to feed their kids. I am angry that Congress could just cut $40 billion from SNAP benefits, when this Food Stamp Challenge week clearly shows my body (in a way that formerly only my intellect understood) how stretched a family living on this benefit would be (particularly understanding I have SO MUCH privilege that actually really prevents me from fully feeling the effects of this limitation). I am not satisfied that our rich nation cannot do better.
Talking over breakfast with my children, I realize that this week is impacting them in more ways than just putting limits on what they can eat. They are actually thinking about it. As my son sings and acts out “my breakfast is not complete, without sau-sage, without sau-sage,” my daughter calls down the stairs “at least you get breakfast.” That’s a new one, from the girl who grumpily declared last week that I was making them do this rotten thing. She’s getting it. Meanwhile, I encourage my child that he does have plenty and I like his silly song and he seems to just be joking, anyhow (at least that’s what I hope, that he’s not actually seriously hungry, because I’m not sure what else I can offer without dipping into reserves).
We start talking at the table about it, and I explain one of the problems for me is: we can do this for a week, and remember: we have a ton of privilege to buffer us from more drastic effects, but can we imagine a family having to eat like this always? What about eating on LESS than this? My son decided that politicians, and those who give the most money to politicians, should try this food budget limitation. They should just try it. Then they’d know. Then they would change their minds.
I want to agree with him, but I’m less certain (not only that they wouldn’t try, but what change it could really make). What could create not only compassion and empathy, but justice, for those living in poverty? What would really change those with power to change this system? Would personal experience, would stories from others, would public policy advocacy, would civil disobedience? What would it take for our nation to be outraged—and to refuse to let it happen—when Congress cuts $40 billion from SNAP benefits? When will we make sure that our insatiable hunger for justice is only satisfied with: justice for all?
So, my belly isn’t completely satiated, but I don’t want it to be. I pray to God the feeling of longing and restlessness enter my heart and spirit as well as my belly, and that same dissatisfaction affect all people in places of power to make a difference, especially Congress. We must do better than we’re doing.