November 1, 2011

Unto This Last

I am announcing today that my family is going onto food stamps for the entire month of November... financially and symbolically.  The SNAP program provides food assistance to poor Americans.  We will make any and all food purchases within the SNAP allotment for the poorest families of Georgia - $4.73 per person, per day.  This allotment includes eating out.  My wife and I are uncomfortable with the immense privilege we have while so many go without.  It is time for us to make the changes that align our lives with our values.

As you know, I have been extensively reading and studying Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. and the influences on their lives.  Gandhi took a voluntary vow of poverty saying to the world that he did not want to have anything that those who have the least could not have.  In struggles for housing justice in Chicago, Martin Luther King moved his family to the poorest area of the city.

It is in this spirit that we take this step.  I will also be blogging about our efforts.  However, I want to be clear that this is not a publicity stunt nor a flight of fancy.  It is part of our journey to get our lives in alignment with our values.  Our hope is to continue it beyond November.  Countless Americans do not have a choice to go on or off food stamps and we want to understand better the realities Americans face every day in relation to food, money and health.

We are hopeful that we can actually live below this amount and donate any surplus money to the Atlanta Food Bank.

Please pass along the word to those who you think may be interested in our journey.  While our reasons are personal, our learning will be public and we hope to serve as an inspiration to others as we work to create a healthier and more just world.

"There is no wealth but life.  Life, including all its powers of love, of joy, and of admiration.  That country is the richest which nourishes the greatest numbers of noble and happy human beings; that [person] is richest, who, having perfected the functions of [their] own life to the utmost, has also the widest helpful influence, both personal, and by means of his possessions, over the lives of others."
- John Ruskin, Unto This Last

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