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Food bank employee explains why people abusing the system is a myth: 'Food is a human right'

Revealing that her short answer to this common misconception is an immediate 'no,' she clarified that the reality is a little more nuanced than that.

Food bank employee explains why people abusing the system is a myth: 'Food is a human right'
Cover Image Source: Twitter/@astoldbykaki

An employee of a food bank in Texas took to social media to address a question she often gets asked about her work. In a thread that's been liked by more than 87,300 people, Twitter user @AsToldByKaki shared that she often gets asked whether people lie and come get food even when they don't actually need it. Revealing that her short answer to this common misconception is an immediate "no," she clarified that the reality is a little more nuanced than that. "I work at a food bank, and I spend a lot of time at food pantries and food distributions. I get asked all the time, 'do you think people LIE and come to get food if they don't really NEED it?'" she wrote.


Explaining why it doesn't really matter if some people do lie to get food, @AsToldByKaki tweeted: "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. The problem is not 'people abusing the system,' it's actually the opposite. Not enough people are taking advantage of resources that could help their families. You don't have to be homeless, jobless, or even in extreme poverty to receive food assistance."


She further clarified the "we don't care" part in her tweet by explaining that while people do have to fill out a form to receive food, everything is self-declared. "So people could lie if they wanted to. But it's not policed because FOOD IS A HUMAN RIGHT. At the end of the day, our mission is to give out food," Kaki wrote. "Food insecurity is very complex and nuanced in these modern times we live in. Just because someone has a car/cell phone doesn't mean they cant struggle with food insecurity. It's a lot easier to get food or housing assistance than it is to get phone bills or auto payment assistance."


Speaking to Bored Panda about what prompted her to speak out on the matter, she said: "I tweeted it without really putting a lot of thought behind it after helping out at a food distribution in the August Texas heat. I was tired, and someone asked me the question I so often get asked: 'do you think people lie about needing food?' I've seen people line up at food pantries as early as 4 am. I've seen people borrow their neighbors' car to come pick up food for their families. I've seen people come on bikes, motorcycles, and on foot to carry what they can. Nobody does that for fun. It's free food, I don't even see how it can be abused."



"Do some people 'need it more than others?' Sure, but at the end of the day, everybody deserves to eat. Some people get all of their food from pantries, and some supplement what they've bought from the grocery store with food pantry food. Both are perfectly fine," Kaki continued. "There are just so many misconceptions about food banks, food pantries, and receiving assistance. I've worked in social services capacities for a long time, both as a volunteer and an employee, and I've heard so many stories from people in all kinds of situations. What I've learned is everyone's life is so complex, with ups and downs and unique stories. We simply can not judge or place a stigma on people who are just trying to get by, especially when it comes to something as essential as food."



Kaki's tweets prompted many to weigh in on the subject, with some sharing their own experiences with food banks. "I wish more people knew you don't have to be homeless to receive food assistance. You don't even have to be unemployed," she said. "In fact, a lot of people who receive food assistance work multiple underpaying jobs. Even people who usually get by fine without any assistance can still come to a food pantry if they have a need. Sometimes people have to pay a large bill, or they get sick and can't work, so the money that's usually there for food gets used somewhere else. Those people can still visit a food pantry until they are back up on their feet. Any time someone doesn't have food, that's a serious crisis. I also want people to know this: even if you could get by eating peanut butter crackers or your last can of beans doesn't mean you have to. You deserve to be nourished."


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