Food Bank Drive: Not Solving Hunger

By Trey Smith of Salem, Oregon, who is the the coordinator of Citizens for Livable Communities and has a blog called The Rambling Taoist.

One of our local television stations (Northwest News Channel 8, an NBC affiliate) is teaming up with several local corporations to sponsor a massive food drive to benefit the Oregon Food Bank. The stated goal is to raise 1 million pounds of food by March 31. Not only is the station running multitudes of self-promoting PSAs, but they have the governor shilling for them too.

Now don't get me wrong. As far as the food drive goes, it's not necessarily such a bad thing. There are thousands upon thousands of hungry people in our state and many local food banks strain to keep up with the ever increasing demand. So, encouraging people and business to make needed donations can only help the present situation.

However, the food drive -- like too many initiatives in our society -- places far too much emphasis at the wrong point in the process.

Projects such as food drives deal with the hunger issue at the back end. If, instead, we would place more emphasis on alleviating the circumstances that lead to hunger, then we would not only help to feed the hungry amongst us today, but we would also work to PREVENT more people from joining their ranks.

At this juncture, it's easy to blame this whole predicament on our elected officials and Corporate America. For the government's part, the laws that govern our land don't do nearly enough to create the kinds of opportunities needed so that most people can earn a living wage, receive adequate health care and, thus, enjoy secure and well-fed lives. Too often, it is the government's policies themselves that create the necessary dynamics that spur poverty and hunger.

Corporate America has worked diligently to depress wages and benefits, outsource jobs to the far corners of the planet (which has destroyed the concept of job security), undermine LEGAL union activities, and employ shortcuts in the use of materials and safety measures which have endangered not only their own workers but the general public as well.

But it's simply a copout to lay the blame at their feet alone. If we, the people, started clamoring for REAL bona fide changes in the way our society confronts the problems of hunger and poverty, then many changes would be implemented. It is our collective silence that has provided both the government and big business with the needed cover to allow this problem to fester and deepen.

While I urge my fellow Oregonians to make a generous donation to the Great Food Drive, I also implore each of you to not stop at this token effort. One million pounds of food sounds like a tremendous amount, but it pales in comparison to what is needed over the long haul.

The better solution is to work to END THE NEED. If no one is hungry, then we can utilize our collective efforts for worthy projects other than food drives.

  • Todd Birch (unverified)

    As far as the food drive goes, it's not necessarily such a bad thing.

    No, but as far as columns goes, this was.

  • Todd Birch (unverified)

    No, but as far as columns goes, this was.

    Look at that. Smartass tries to be snide and can't even get the grammar right. What a loser.

  • (Show?)

    Sorry, Todd, I rather like the post. I support the Food Bank, and affordable housing initiatives, and all that stuff...but, boy, shouldn't we also be thinking about ways to end poverty in the first place?

    Frank Dufay

  • Chris (unverified)

    Food bank: good Ending hunger: good Complexity of issue: high Intent: good

    The issue needs more focus in Oregon, and we need more action.

    The blame doesn't fall entirely on any single entity. Who should take more of it? Corporations? Government? Families? Individuals?

    Answer: all of the above

guest column

connect with blueoregon