Thursday is the big day, and the food will certainly be flowing. Most of us working in the organic and natural foods industry will see one of our best weeks of sales coming from this week. We are clearly reminded of the bounty of food that exists in our country. Yes, we are truly fortunate. But sadly, that “we” does not include everyone. Many Americans will not be experiencing the bounty of a Thanksgiving feast. In fact, some Americans will have nothing at all to eat on Thanksgiving Day. Imagine having no food to eat on Thanksgiving. Pretty difficult to imagine, isn’t it? Now, imagine that many of those who will go hungry on that day are children. It’s almost as if your mind doesn’t want to go there. And yet, that is our reality.
Marian Wright Edelman, The President of the Children’s Defense Fund, very eloquently and powerfully describes the situation:
Thanksgiving is a time when many Americans pause to be grateful for all we have. In the current economic downturn when the gap between rich and poor is at the highest level since the Great Depression and the unemployment rate is 10.2 percent, millions of our neighbors, including many families with children, are struggling hard to count their blessings. The latest Census Bureau numbers show the number of children living in poverty ($22,050 for a family of four) increased by almost 750,000 in 2008 to 14.1 million; the number of children living in extreme poverty ($11,025 for a family of four) increased by more than 500,000 to 6.3 million children. This is the biggest child poverty increase since 1992 and it comes at a time when our national safety net is full of holes. When parents lose their jobs, lose their homes, lose their health care, children suffer, and all of us lose. Each year we keep 14.1 million children in poverty it costs our nation over half a trillion dollars in lost productivity, higher crime, and poorer health.
Despite how this post may read, I’m not trying to sour the enjoyment of Thanksgiving. Thursday should be a wonderful day of feasting and enjoyment. I’m all about it! But, it is worth keeping in mind how very fortunate most of us are. So, I simply encourage you that before your big meal, please take a quiet moment and allow yourself to truly be part of the collective community that we call “our country”. Whether you call it prayer, meditation, heartfelt thoughts, or whatever name works for you; as you sit and give thanks for your food, family, and friends, please remember those who have no bounty, especially the children. Let’s hold them in our hearts, and hope that tomorrow is a better day for them. Thanks, and Happy Thanksgiving.