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Happy Holidays from Your Friends at the Vermont Department of Social Services…

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Reprinted from the Canadian Press… 

A homeless man thought he was doing some good by standing at a supermarket for 10 hours a day to get shoppers to donate money into a red Salvation Army kettle.

The shelter where Paul Tucker lives doesn’t see it that way.

The Good Samaritan Haven ordered him out by Saturday, saying Tucker, 48, is spending his time raising money for the needy instead of finding a place to live or looking for work.

The 20-bed shelter offers emergency housing, clothing and food, and requires clients to leave each day at 7 a.m. to look for housing or go to work, executive director Paul Mascitti said.

The average guest stays 29 days, Mascitti said. Tucker has been there since May.

“If you’re not doing anything 10 hours a day, whether it’s lounging on a beach or working for the Salvation Army or sitting at a Dunkin’ Donuts, you’re breaking your contract with us,” Mascitti said.

“I can’t see someone saying, ‘I’m going to benefit mankind when I haven’t taken care of myself.”‘

The Salvation Army, which runs a soup kitchen he frequents, gave Tucker one of the bell ringer jobs two weeks ago. The gig pays $20 a day for meals.

“He’s a sweet man; he’d do anything for anybody,” said Capt. Louis Patrick, who runs the local group.

Dressed in a knit Salvation Army cap and wearing a Salvation Army coat, Tucker solicits the donations from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. under a sign that reads: “Sharing and Caring. Need Knows No Season.”

“It’s for generosity, really,” he said.

Tucker, who has worked as a painter, a farmer and a maintenance worker at a fast-food restaurant, has been getting well-wishes from shoppers who know of his situation and holds no ill will toward the shelter.

“I don’t find fault with them, but I don’t feel it’s quite right,” he said.

Tucker said he isn’t sure where he’ll go when he clears out of the shelter. There’s a hiking camp he’s heard about nearby and may go there.

Mascitti, meanwhile, makes no apologies. Rules are rules, he said.

“Here it is, the ‘Grinch’ time of the year, and this guy is being asked to leave the homeless shelter, no room at the inn. It’s an old story,” he said.

You think Mascitti is a ‘law-and-order’ Republican?

I think so.

Besides, if Tucker is getting paid by the Salvation Army ($20.00), doesn’t that qualify as work? Furthermore, if you don’t have a real job and no income, how do you find a place to live?

It’s the same old institutional double standard handed down by administrators driving Cadillacs and living in the suburbs, who are trying desperately to make “poor” disappear, or worse yet, criminalize them (another Republican platform). 

I don’t get it.

Merry Christmas.

Over 35 Million Go Hungry in the U.S. in 2006…

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Here’s something to ponder while you’re gnawing on that turkey leg next week.

More than 35.5 million people in the U.S. went hungry in 2006 as the seldom discussed poverty problem in this country has reared it’s ugly head again. This figure is up from the previous year, the Agriculture Department said on Wednesday.

Single mothers and their children, as you might have guessed, were among the most likely to suffer according to the study.

The 35.5 million people, as previously talked about on the Shadow Democracy Radio Show, and written about on this blog, represent a whopping 12.1 percent of the total population. These people said they did not have enough money or food for at least some period during the year.  That is compared with 35.1 million people who made similar claims in 2005.

Of the 35.5 million people, 11.1 million reported they had “very low food security,” meaning they had a substantial disruption in the amount of food they typically eat. For example, among families, a third of those facing disruption in the food they typically eat said an adult in their family did not eat for a whole day because they could not afford it.

The survey was based on Census Bureau data and does not include the homeless, who collectively represent about 750,000 people in 2005, according to federal estimates.

Some quick facts:

Among all families, about 12.6 million, or 10.9 percent, reported going hungry for at least some period last year.

Single mothers going hungry (30.4 percent)

Black households going hungry (21.8 percent)

Hispanic households going hungry (19.5 percent)

Households below the official poverty line going hungry (36.3 percent)

States with highest prevalence of hunger from 2004-2006 included:

Mississippi (18.1 percent)

New Mexico (16.1 percent)

Texas (15.9 percent)

South Carolina (14.7 percent)

The most alarming statistic deals with children. Of the 35.5 million people reporting periods of hunger last year, 12.6 million were children.

“This report comes at a critical time for hungry Americans and those of us who help serve them,” said Vicki Escarra, president of the nation’s largest hunger relief group — America’s Second Harvest-The Nation’s Food Bank Network. “There simply may be no food for many families when the rest of the nation gathers to celebrate Thanksgiving and religious holidays.”

Jim Weill, president of the Food Research and Action Center, an anti-hunger group, said he is troubled by the report. He said figures for 2007 could prove to be worse, given rising food prices and an uneven economy this year.

And don’t forget about the price of fuel. That will surely drive prices up as well.

I urge anyone reading this to go through your cupboards if you can and donate anything possible to the food pantry. If you have nothing to give, then please go to your local store, if you have the means, and buy up some of that mac ‘n cheese at four for a dollar, and donate it. Anything helps…even small things. Remember, we are all Americans, we are in this together. This is a national problem that requires national action.

Don’t neglect your hungry neighbors. It’s the rules.

More information here: http://www.ers.usda.gov/publications/err49/err49.pdf