Stewardship of Life


SNAP to it Food Stamp Challenge–Day 11

Posted in Just Living by Sharron R. Lucas on June 11, 2010
Tags: , , , , , ,

Dignity: Priceless

You may have seen the credit card commercial that gives dollar amounts for various purchases and expenditures before ending with an experience that is “priceless.” It’s a warm, fuzzy appeal, even though the reality is that one can’t purchase happiness or finance it with a credit card. Heaven knows, marketers try to get us to believe that we can buy our way into happiness and contentment; just sign on the dotted line for that new car in which you’ll look so cool or swipe that card for the latest offering from the most fab designer. Today, on day 11 of the SNAP to it Food Stamp Challenge, I offer my own version of that commercial.

FADE IN:

INT. Grocery store produce department

A woman dressed neatly but simply pushes an empty cart, picking up beautiful fruit, looking at it longingly and putting it back, while others around her in designer labels are loading carts with fresh produce. Mind-numbing Musak plays in the background.

Narrator (V.O.)

Fresh juicy watermelon $4.99 each, delicious red cherries $4.99 a pound, Organic SpringMix $4.99 for 12 oz., Iceberg lettuce $1.29 a head, baby Yukon Gold potatoes $4.99 for twopounds, special price on 10 pounds of Idaho bakers $4.29, crisp Pink Lady and Gala apples $2.79 a pound.

CUT TO

INT canned fruit aisle and same simply dressed woman reaches down to the bottom shelf and picks up two cans to put into her cart with the 10 pound bag of potatoes and the head of iceberg lettuce. She is resigned in her action.

Narrator (V.O.)

Generic applesauce 79 cents a can.

CUT TO

INT Meat department

The same woman wheels slowly down the line of freezers watching others reach for steaks, boneless chicken breasts, roasts, and baby back ribs.

Narrator (V.O.)

Rib Eye, $12.99 a pound, organic free-range boneless, skinless chicken breasts $9.49 a pound, and sock-eye salmon fillets $10.99 a pound.

The woman picks up a package of ground beef and a package of hotdogs and puts them in her cart.

Narrator (V.O.)

Go ahead. Yes, that’s more your speed. Ground beef value pack $1.99 a pound, and hotdogs $1.99 special of the week; nitrates and filler at no extra charge. Hey, be grateful. It’s meat, isn’t it?

CUT TO

Check out line where our woman is placing the contents of her cart on the conveyor belt. Two women in line behind her are obviously checking her out. Their carts are loaded with the finest foods, and they are dressed to the nines.

Narrator (V.O.)

Yes, there are many things that a poor person can buy with the swipe of a card—like apple sauce, hotdogs, hamburger, potatoes, lettuce, some boxes of mac and cheese, a gallon of milk, a loaf of bread and buns. Glad you’re buying generic and not wasting our tax dollars. Oh, and I’m delighted to see you with that box of oatmeal instead of expensive sugar-loaded cereal. Yes, even ice cream bars are included, although I’m not so sure we should be subsidizing treats and that soda pop. The American government will not, however, pay for your toilet paper and shampoo. They still make Sears and Roebuck catalogues, don’t they?

The woman swipes her card and then digs in her change purse for a couple of crumpled bills and some change and hands them to the impatient cashier who looks down her nose at the woman.

As she takes her bags we see the women behind her whispering to one another. The woman drops her purse while trying to juggle the plastic bags and has to scramble to collect her belongings. No one helps.

Narrator (V.O.)

Dignity? Priceless. Yes, you can’t buy dignity even when there’s public assistance for everything else. Surely you didn’t expect us to give you that, too.

Close Up of the woman’s face. A tear runs down her cheek.

FADE TO BLACK.

Thankfully, life is not a commercial, and you won’t see this one between the scenes of your favorite sitcom. But the scenario is real, and for those who have to rely on SNAP, WIC, and other programs, the lack of dignity and judgmental eyes are real, too. Yes, dignity is priceless, and it is one thing that we can choose to give to our neighbor. Jesus was all about restoring folks to wholeness, both physical and to a place in society. We should do no less. How about rewriting that commercial with me?

State of the Pantry

Company’s coming, so I’ll be making another grocery run tomorrow. Today I had yogurt and a peach for breakfast, rice and beans and a handful of cherries for lunch, a cheese stick for snack, and cheese toast and tomato soup for supper. Dessert was more cherries and a few chocolate chips.

Website(s) of the Day

Today’s websites are about an amazing program and an article that came out of research from that program. Sisters of the Road, Inc. is a non-profit advocacy program in Portland, Oregon, that is dedicated to building community, sharing food, and honoring the dignity of all people. Click here to read more about Sisters of the Road Café and other programs. Click here to read “Dignity and indignation: How people experiencing homelessness view services and providers” by Lisa Hoffman and Brian Coffey, from the Social Science Journal 45 (2008) 207-222.

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