When Rep Tim Ryan took the Congressional Food Stamp Challenge, he was caught eating a pork chop.
Today I too fell off the wagon by partaking in the food at the Michigan Policy Summit.
Before I get to how I’ll make this up and the deeper lessons I draw from this, let me make on thing clear.
It was not worth it.
The Summit was at the Lansing Center, which was billed as having an “award winning kitchen.” The kitchen might be great, but the food was awful.
So I had rice with bland veggies for lunch and meatballs at the post-conference reception. And a cookie and some coffee (okay, the cookie might have been worth it).
I’m not a greedy man, so I figure this takes out 1/4 pound of rice and 1/4 bag of frozen veggies for the lunch; my remaining eggs and cheese for the meatballs; and one of my remaining 2 dollars for the cookie. It’s not a perfect substitution, but it’s close. Besides, now that I’m out of eggs and cheese, I’m going to need more beans to get any protein in the next 2 days.
Now, for the deeper lesson: being poor is isolating.
We are a species that bond over food–what does that mean when you can’t afford it?
What does it mean when you can’t afford top go out for a bite to eat with friends? What does it mean when you can’t afford to send snacks to school with your children?
What does it say about our society that some parents have to go hungry so their kids can have a birthday cake?
The rule that you can’t accept free food is one of the more artificial ones. If we were really on food stamps, we’d accept all the free food we could get.
But as a middle-class professional, I get more free food than I need. I would have made a pig of myself, but I probably could have made it through this week on $5 and free food, largely because I’m a middle-class professional and look the part. I get fed at professional events, and I could crash other professional events without arousing suspicion.
I never could have done that when I was working at the lumber mill in Stoughton or the bait shop in Crandon.
We live in a society where those who don’t need free food get plenty of it and there’ s not enough for those who do. Don’t believe me? Look at how many samples are out at the Whole Foods. If you an afford to pay Whole Foods prices, you can afford to buy your own cheese cube.
I see this post is becoming less a confession and more a rambling about all the thoughts I’ve been brooding over for the last five days.
It must be the meatballs.