A Day in the Life: Florida through the lens of hunger

By Linda Porterfield, Charlotte Dems Writer

Remember the series of coffee table books, A Day in the Life, from 30 years ago?  Images visually explained life in America with bucolic references of happy times and beautiful landmarks from every state. We proudly displayed these editions on our coffee tables.

How would a contemporary version of A Day in the Life look?  It would undoubtedly depict civil unrest, destruction of historic landmarks, intensive care units overflowing from COVID-19, police brutality, Republican legislators justifying their inaction and deceit before congressional committees, and long lines of Americans patiently waiting for distributions of food formerly purchased with income provided by jobs they no longer hold.

Welcome to Trump’s America: a picture of shame.

Take a look at a 2020 theoretical book, A Day in the Life of Florida, as seen through the lens of hunger.

You would see images of people across various socioeconomic strata standing in food lines for hours, customers of grocery and other retail stores attacking each other for wearing and not wearing masks, and heads of households sadly looking on as their cars are repossessed.  Turn the page, and there are images of over-crowded shelters filled with the evicted. Next, notice pictures of once well-groomed, well-fed, clean, children now showing signs of neglect.

It’s not that theoretical.  Examine these data from FeedingFlorida.org:

  • 8 million Floridians struggle with food insecurity, and 800,000 are children;
  • 69% must choose between food and transportation;
  • 51% eat food beyond the safe expiration date;
  • 73% must choose between food and paying utilities; and
  • 79% also purchase unhealthy, inexpensive food to fill the need gap.

The story told by these statistics hits close to home. In Charlotte County, New Hope Community Church Food Bank in North Port reports an increase of 2500 monthly clients over last year’s monthly average of 7500. In Sarasota, All Faiths Food Bank Chair, Nelle Miller, indicates: “hunger in our community has risen 120% in just the last few weeks.”

Reverend Kevin Shaw from First Macedonian Baptist Church explains: “There are a lot of people coming [for help] because they don’t have a job [due to coronavirus] …. normally we assist between 60 and 70 families on an average day. Now we are helping more than 100.”

Let’s be clear. COVID-19 has caused food insecurity. But ignorance and refusal of Congressional Republicans to act on related assistance remedies fueled the resulting food insecurity that now serves as the main course for many Americans.

And we have not yet experienced the fallout from the expiration of the weekly $600 unemployment stimulus. While Trump Republicans obstruct stimulus relief negotiations over the conference table, Americans worry about negotiations with utility companies, health care providers, and credit card companies over their dinner tables.

Those unfamiliar with food insecurity may be reluctant to admit a need for help. Asking for help through a muzzle of undeserved shame, inspired by legislators’ desertion of those voting them into office, is very hard indeed.

Please don’t make them ask our local agencies for help only to find none is available. Donate food, money, or time to one of the local foodbanks on this list.  Or sponsor your own food drive.  If you need food assistance, call one of these numbers.

Our government has let us down. And, like states taking over with their own pandemic guidelines in the absence of a national plan, it’s time for us, as fellow citizens and neighbors, to step up to the plate.

A Day in the Life of Florida under the Trump administration is unworthy of a place on anyone’s coffee table. Pack it away, far from the visual reach of children. It will forever remain the disgraceful legacy of Ron DeSantis, Rick Scott, Marco Rubio, and their Republican colleagues in the United States Senate and Oval Office.

Your blue vote on November 3rd is not just for Joe Biden.  It is also for all of the decent, skilled, and accomplished professionals he will recruit as staff and cabinet officials to right the wrongs of this administration and restore integrity to government.

Once Biden is in office, there will be pictures to remind you of how to recognize integrity.

Regrettably, it’s been too long.

Image Credits: https://unsplash.com/s/photos/hunger