Charles Dickens would have had no shortage of material about which to write had lived in America today. There is hunger, deprivation, poverty, cruelty and greed in every corner of the land as there was in England in the 1800s during the Second Industrial Revolution.
During Dicken’s day in England there was a proliferation of inventions. The invention of useable electricity, steel, and petroleum products during the 19th century lead to a second industrial revolution (1865–1900), that featured the growth of railways and steam ships, faster and wider means of communication, and inventions with names we all know today. And the rich got richer and the poor got poorer just as in America today.
America, during the mid 20th century, was the invention capital of the world. The Digital Age brought us billionaires. The number of billionaires in America in 1982 was 13 now the figure is 412.. In 1982 there were about 700,000 millionaires there are now over 3 million. Wealth is not being distributed however – wealth is being accumulated by the relatively few – and that means there is less money available for the average person.
Poverty in America is on the rise. This year it is estimated that there are over 46 million people, or 15.1% of the population officially living under the poverty line ($11,170 per year for an individual) in 1980 the rate was 12.6% or approximately 32 million people.
About 10% of those over the age of 65 are, officially, poverty stricken. Meaning that there are well over 3 million seniors in poverty, the same number as people considered millionaires in America. It is shameful.
Thankfully there are various services, both volunteer and government, available to alleviate some of the hunger but in no way do the supplemental food services take care of all the needs. In fact the main government service Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is under attack by House Republicans and may well be de-funded in an effort to kill the program even after drastic cuts were made by the Senate in an effort to allow the program to continue.
Seniors are at particular risk for illness if they do not get the nutrition required. Also seniors, quite frequently, forgo their medicines to get food or, vice versa, forgo their needed food to purchase medicines. Neither choice makes for healthy living.
This week, June 28th, and next week, July 5th, we are going to be talking, on Seniors’ Magazine about food, food banks, food services and good nutrition so tune in to WSCA 106.1 FM every Thursday morning, 6am to 8am, for Seniors’ Magazine. If you are on the ‘net you can listen to live streaming. You can also get all our broadcasts here on Podcast.
If you are one of the fortunate not to be in the poverty trap you can, and should, donate time, food or money to your local food bank. Often food banks need you for only a couple of hours a week. You might be bagging items to get ready for pick-up by the “customers.” Or you may be sorting donations. Banks constantly need food, toiletries, baby diapers etc., and cleaning items. Check with your local bank to see what its current need is. Don’t feel you have to buy tons of stuff. A few items certainly always helps. Try to buy the smallest version of the item. But please make sure any item you donate does not have an expired date – don’t offload load old pantry items. Pantries will simply throw outdated items away. In advance – thanks!