42 million people may experience food insecurity due to the pandemic. In these times, it is important to remember that food banks are open to anyone.
Those who are overly worried about the United States turning into a so-called "welfare state" tend to express concerns about folks who may exploit food banks. The inherent argument is, of course, that not everyone can be trusted. In order to "qualify" for help from the state, those who face food insecurity are expected to make a performance of their struggle. However, in a now-viral Twitter thread, a food bank employee explained why food banks on the contrary remain underutilized. The employee, who goes by the username As Told By Kaki on Twitter, affirmed that food is a basic human right everyone is entitled to.
"I work at a food bank, and I spend a lot of time at food pantries and food distributions," she posted. "I get asked all the time, 'Do you think people LIE and come to get food if they don't really NEED it?' My short answer is: no." Her long answer addressed why the food bank beneficiary who lies is an imagined myth. She explained, "It doesn't matter and we don't care. I wish you could see the literal warehouse of food where I work. We will not run out. This idea that there are people 'abusing the system' is a myth. Also, people don't wait in line sometimes for hours just for fun."
She clarified that people who do come to food banks have to fill out a form to receive food. Nonetheless, everything is self-declared. This means people could lie if they wanted to, but it is not policed because as she reiterated, "FOOD IS A HUMAN RIGHT." The Twitter user stated, "At the end of the day, our mission is to give out food." Furthermore, she highlighted what the actual problem is: "Not enough people are taking advantage of resources that could help their families." As Told By Kaki affirmed, "You don't have to be homeless, jobless, or even in extreme poverty to receive food assistance."
"Food insecurity is very complex and nuanced in these modern times we live in," she shared. "Just because someone has a car [or] cell phone does not mean they cannot struggle with food insecurity. It is a lot easier to get food or housing assistance than it is to get phone bill or auto payment assistance." Since her thread was first uploaded to Twitter last week, it has been since by thousands of folks. Several other food bank employees confirmed the user's assertions. For instance, one individual asked, "Don’t fool yourselves into thinking the people in line are somehow different from you. It can be you in a blink. Don’t you want the same dignity?"
At the end of her thread, As Told By Kaki shared a link to Feeding America, a nonprofit nationwide network of 200 food banks that feed more than 46 million people every year through food pantries, soup kitchens, shelters, and other community-based agencies. According to the organization, more than 42 million people may experience food insecurity, including a potential 13 million children, due to the ongoing pandemic. If you would like to make a donation to support their work, you can do so here.