Today I bought eight pieces of chicken at Piggly Wiggly around lunchtime and then gave in to the impulse to buy a piece of cornbread. Seventy-nine cents. One small square of cornbread cost seventy-nine cents. And was it necessary? No. I just wanted it. Yet even as I watched the PW employee wrap it, I thought of how selfish I was. There are hungry children all over Camden. Hungry adults too.
Back to the chicken. Family lore has it that one (maybe all) of my great grandmothers used to wring a chicken’s neck before frying it up in the pan. One great grandmother owned a gun and used it to shoot chickens (for meals) from her front porch. But I, one of their descendants, don’t fry chicken anymore, much less wring their necks or shoot them. I use the excuse that by the time I buy, clean, flour, and fry the bird, both my time and money would have exceeded that needed to purchase and cook it.
About the cornbread, not only did my grandmothers and mother bake cornbread, they did so at least weekly. Me? I used to bake it in my mother’s cast iron skillet every few weeks, but it was heavy with all that buttermilk, and besides, as my family dwindled in size, I ended up tossing much of to the birds…not that the wrens and woodpeckers don’t deserve to eat, too. I began using cornbread mix and doctoring it up with onions before finally succumbing to Jiffy.
Taking shortcuts doesn’t bother me. Being selfish does. I’m thinking of a friend who, after discussing poverty and homelessness in America, went to the local Starbucks to buy a pumpkin latte. Aren’t we all like that just a little?
One more quick thought. It’s actually a related example. Years ago I read of people in Manhattan who, on their way to the theatre, stepped over and around homeless people on the streets. “That’s terrible,” I thought. But guess what? I did the same thing when I visited there. Am I callous AND selfish? Apparently.
No easy answers. For starters, I’m going to investigate Backpack Buddies. And I’m going to pass right by that cornbread next time.
What about you? What are your challenges when it comes to fighting hunger in your area? Or am I over-reacting?