I believe in Father Christmas. I believe “joy will come in the morning”, as is written in Psalm 30:5. I hope so. Believing in the future would be hard to endure if either were not true. When recently asked, as we often are, what I want for Christmas I instinctively said, “Snow! A white Christmas.” A ski season filled with fresh powder and endless fresh tracks. Not long after that exchange, I found myself explaining the needs of Food Bank clients to the Yerington City Council. For many of our clients it never stops raining.
This holiday season, many families may find their stockings filled with impossible choices: compromised health care to keep the house warm; making sacrifices to be sure the kids have at least one meal a day; selling plasma for the gas money to get to work. Impossible choices to live the best possible lives they can under circumstances a more generous God would not have allowed. I do not need boxes wrapped in strings, or material objects. I need a world that allows children to grow up to be who they are in their core. Freedom from the shackles of poverty holding them, and ultimately all of us, back.
I may never know all of the circumstances that lead them to being in a situation that requires them to make these hard choices. All I do know for certain, is they were not raised waiting to live life under these circumstances. Life is fragile and there will always be difficult choices each of us will have to make. There is not anything we can do about that. There are not nearly enough resources directed to the root causes of poverty, and there is something we can do about that!
Poverty is not just a lack of money or resources. It’s a lack of opportunity. There is not nearly enough money being directed to programs that will help ensure that next Christmas not one senior, child, or veteran goes hungry again. There is not nearly enough money in education to help future generations build the capacity to build the standard of living our parents were blessed with. Not nearly enough! And there is something we can do about that. I have never met a child who wants to be unable to provide for their families as they grow up and become fully active members of our civil society. We can do better. And we will do better starting in this moment. Today.
Feeding America has announced an initiative to end hunger by 2030. I believe we can do better than that. I believe we can begin to restore the wealth of opportunity amid the current economic shortfall. The true measure of a people’s strength is how they rise to master that moment when dire circumstances arrive. Neighborhood by neighborhood, community by community we all have the aptitude to build the tools and assets to ensure every man, woman, and child can reach the ladder of opportunity, prosperity, and blessings of liberty that is enshrined in the very essence of who we are.
We can start by insisting Congress pass a child nutrition authorization that gives each community the tools they need to reach every hungry child. If we placed our mind to it, we could end childhood hunger by 2018, at the latest. We could end bad policies like block granting the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, otherwise known as SNAP, and stop placing barriers for those who depending on these programs. There are plenty of opportunities to ensure that never again will a family find impossible choices in their Christmas stocking.
I never again want to feel like I have been sold a silent night, told a fairy tale. Everyone has the essential right to believe in Father Christmas, if they choose to. I want next Christmas to fill the air around us with peace, love, and the happiness we all so richly deserve. And never again find one single hungry person on a dark winters night. Together, we really can solve hunger. For everyone.
To borrow the timeless words of Jill Jackson Miller and Sy Miller, “Let there be peace on Earth!”
Shane Piccinini is the public policy advocate for the Food Bank of Northern Nevada and has been with the organization for about a year. He has extensive government and policy experience and understands the real world effects that come from positive and negative public policies. Shane is passionate about public policy and creative positive social change in communities served by the Food Bank.
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