Last week I got an email update from Legal Momentum, a policy organization that focuses on the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) program in the US. I first became aware of their work when I was doing a policy analysis report for the organization Queers for Economic Justice, and turned to TANF to see how the category of “family” was defined. (What I discovered is that single-mothers and gay families are frequently denied access to funding). This is not the space for me to go on in any more detail about that, but it was because of that research that I started getting emails from Legal Momentum, and staying updated on the latest TANF news.
The report they sent out revealed that 1 in 4 US households with children do not have access to adequate nutrition. This was, sadly, not surprising, but seemed an important thing to highlight amidst the current conjuncture of social service benefit cutting. As president of the Food Research Action Center commented, “These data demonstrate, as if any further evidence were needed, that this is not the time to make our safety net weaker. Congress must ensure that all deficit consideration protects federal nutrition programs – SNAP (food stamps) and child nutrition and senior nutrition programs – and other parts of the safety net that help low-income people.”
As a person who gets a lot of pleasure and enjoyment out of food, I frequently think about the position of privilege that is required to come to such a relationship. But this report highlights the futility of individualistic, consumer politics, something that’s been a struggle for me to negotiate. My veganism, organic-foodism, frequent localism, all of these personal consumer choices do very little to combat the inadequate state of nutrition in the US.
I don’t have the answers to solving this. Overthrowing capitalism comes to mind, but that trite radical-response ignores nuance and lacks pragmatism. I don’t know what else to say about this, but it seemed important to include, especially since I started my new food blog, filled with images of the food that I am so lucky to enjoy.
(one page of the report can be seen below:)