The Norman Transcript

July 28, 2013

A constituent letter to the representatives

The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — Who voted this summer to eliminate food stamps (aka SNAP)?

Editor, The Transcript:

In the homeless shelter where I worked

I asked Kareem, age 6, “Have you had your supper yet?”

It was nine at night. He was my regular guide, taking me to families I had to see.

“No,“ he said.

I could ignore his answer, as you did.

Or I could take him to the room of a friend in the shelter whose skillet usually had some tasty leftovers;

Or I could take him to the bodega — as I did —-

And buy him his favorite meal: orange juice and canned spaghetti.

In 30 Bronx years, in various places, I saw many

Whose meals were too haphazard, or tiny, or absent.

(By the way, our Y Camp on Saturdays

Served home-cooked lunches

To kids and parents.)

I see the House of Representatives is now Casual Headquarters:

“What difference does this vote make anyway?” they might have said.

You can see that choosing no food at all

won’t feed the Kareems of our country.

Means the ones who hold the budget (that’s you) dodge responsibility,

Leaving neglect and hunger trailing in your wake.

Means the ones who care (family and community) will find little budget for food,

While they walk a path to limited life, to slow genocide.

Reps, safety nets need weaving, repairing.

Isn’t that a part of your job that can’t be delegated? Help each other to do it.

Set up the looms now!

It’s not as if your own wherewithal has flown.

I’m still paying taxes for your salary, office, staff, travel, pension, health insurance.

Time to earn your money — show you care.

Can’t you see that even with food stamps in play, food banks and pantries

can’t keep up with the overflow need? Visit one and see for yourself.

Haven’t you heard that many soldiers’ families are getting SNAP to survive?

Don’t you think “love” is part of your job description?

Try it on for size.

Do you want to see the actual headline:

“U.S. votes to cancel main anti-hunger program.”

This won’t play well in underdeveloped nations,

Let alone in our land.

Disbelief and disrespect will follow.

Instead, open your eyes and your hearts —

Weave that safety net, make it strong.

Don’t shame yourself or your country.

Distribute a message of hope and caring.

For food is respect for life,

And central to nourishing.

To those of you reps who voted for food stamps:

When the real vote comes, do it again — and nobody shrink the net.

To you,

A thousand thanks, always.

Patricia Allen Upham