Where justice is denied, where poverty is enforced, where ignorance prevails, and where any one class is made to feel that society is an organized conspiracy to oppress, rob and degrade them, neither persons nor property will be safe.—Frederick Douglass
Life really wasn’t all that different when I was growing up, but there was one thing about which my mother was adamant: you’re eating breakfast. It didn’t matter how early it meant we had to get up, we weren’t leaving the house without having food. Where we lived in rural Oklahoma, there was no catching something on the way, or stopping at the convenience store down the street because there was nothing there! I think school breakfast might have been an option, but I never knew anyone who actually ate it. There were some Saturday mornings in high school where the band bus left for a trip at some ungodly hour that required us to leave home at something like 5:00 AM. Guess what, we sat down and had breakfast first. Every morning. Not just something slapped together, either. Eggs. Bacon or sausage. Hot cereal during the winter. Toast. Fruit in season, when we could afford it. Breakfast was a big deal.
Today, there are more options. It actually makes sense for Kat’s kids to eat their breakfast at school; it’s built into their schedule along with lunch. We know they’re getting nutritionally appropriate meals and we don’t have the added fuss at home of trying to convince them to finish their food before the bus comes at 6:30. People who have to commute to work also have more options now than were available forty years ago. There’s a fast food option on every other corner. Seated service restaurants are in greater abundance. Grocery stores are open earlier. We’ve got it made, right?
More than a financial state, poverty is a life condition. Even people whose incomes are well above what is considered the poverty line can still have impoverished lives because of the choices they make in how they spend what they have. One of the biggest areas of poverty, strangely enough, comes in having too few fruits and we replace that with an excess of sodium, which in turn kills yet another 3.5 million people. And no, grabbing a bottle of juice isn’t the same, especially for children. Juice doesn’t contain the fiber and other nutrients available in whole fruit. What’s sad is grocery stores and markets dump tons of wasted fruit every day. Global economies keep prices out of reach for people who need fruit the most, and those who can afford fruit look at it more as a dessert item, not a dietary necessity.
We like to think we’re rich, and comparatively we are, but look in your shopping cart the next time you buy food. If you have three different kinds of chips, packaged foods, and/or soda, and less than three different kinds of fresh fruit, you are creating a poverty of life for you and your family. We should all be appalled.