business news in context, analysis with attitude

MNB had a story yesterday about how the nation’s food banks are experiencing a shortage of product to serve to the nation’s hungry, in part because stores have gotten more efficient, and therefore have less wasted product. And, we noted:

According to a recent study done by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), in 2006 there were 35.5 million Americans living in households with “food insecurity,” which is defined as having to change normal diets because of a lack of food or money. That’s an increase from 35.1 million in 2005.

There is something wrong with this picture.

This isn’t to suggest that supermarkets should be less efficient and have more food to discard, but the US ought not be a place where 10 percent of the population suffers from “food insecurity.”

One MNB user responded:

Being in a position where I often interface with those that need to visit a local food pantry, I can tell you that many of them don't lack for the modern conveniences of a cell phone or two. Large screen color TV's or 20" chrome rims on their 92 Toyota. Long is gone when many single women families fed and clothed their kids and did without the fancy frills. All this in order to raise their kids with a better education so they don't repeat the same thing. Of course there always was the 10% who didn't get the message. What do you think their kids learned?

Another MNB user wrote:

Food Insecurity is a made up B.S. condition. Having to change your lifestyle to meet your budget is called living within your means. If you can't afford to eat like you used to - you have to either get another job, or eat something else.

I used to be able to do a lot of things that I can't do now because I have a family and bills to pay. Does that mean I have "12 pack of beer on the couch while I watch TV for 12 hours straight" insecurity? I also used to drive a nicer car than I do now - does that mean I have "didn't want to buy a mini-van insecurity"? No, it means I had to adjust my expectations to match my situation.

Grow up America!

“Food insecurity” is one of those annoying phrases that demographers and social scientists probably invented because they thought it sounder better than an old fashioned, pithy word like “hunger.”

That said, I trust you aren’t suggesting that there isn’t such a thing as hunger in America, that there are people in a position where they can't feed their families and maybe don't have a plethora of options.

Are there people who abuse the system? Sure. Just as there are people who abuse every system. But that doesn’t mean the problem is non-existent.

MNB user Joan Anthony wrote:

Relating my own experiences, my church has a Thanksgiving dinner drive every year and this year more people than ever came for their Thanksgiving dinner. Supplies were depleted quickly with much higher volume waiting in line than the last two years. Since all these people are prescreened for status of need, this would certainly appear that there is more need this year than ever.

The Northern Illinois Food Bank, one of the largest in Illinois, has more requests than ever this year.

It would seem to me that certain donators are more interested in worrying about their own interests than others and the food stores think of it as sustaining margins, just business!

I’m not sure it is fair to suggest that retailers ought to be less efficient in order to donate more food to the hungry, nor that it is somehow sinful for them to pay attention to profits and margins.

We continue to get email about the “McDonald’s coupons for good grades” debate…

One MNB user wrote:

Why is it that often when an example is shared that most of us take the micro-view looking only at the specifics of the situation vs. the macro-view defining the broader and bigger questions? Are we fearful of speaking out, apathetic, or naive? Admittedly I am not supportive of McDonald's as being a healthy or even good choice for a child (or adult's) meal in most situations. However the example you shared speaks to a much broader issue that no one seems to be addressing:

1. What position as a broader community we should take relative to corporate donorship and/or sponsorship in our schools?

2. And what, if anything should the corporate donor and/or sponsor receive in return?

3. Therein lies the next question...have we shifted from being donors who give from the generosity of our hearts to sponsors with expectations and conditions for return?

Another MNB user wrote:

Has anyone considered teachers explaining to the kids that while they'd like to reward them for good work, they want to give them something of benefit rather than something that's not good for them, and asking the kids to make suggestions to their own rewards?

MNB user Kevin McCaffery wrote:

I was talking to my wife about this rewards program (like your wife she works in the schools) Her take on it was, McDonalds gives the coupons to the schools free of charge. She would like to offer movie tickets, clothing coupons, theme park tickets etc. But those places need to give them away. Blockbuster used to do it, a local movie house used to do it, and a bowling alley used to do it all have stopped, saying it was too expensive to continue.

I joked yesterday that I’m amused by the notion of rewarding kids for good grades that having been taught by the Dominican nuns in elementary school and the Irish Christian Brothers in high school, the reward for doing well and being respectful and reverent was not getting smacked around. (Not something that I was very successful at. I did much better with the Jesuits in college, who taught me to question everything.)

Which led one MNB user to write:

I'm with you on this one. I went to a public school, but all it took was a phone call (or a blabber mouth sibling) & we were "rewarded" for our behavior when we got home...and I also failed miserably.

Perhaps, rather than the positive, we should "reward" their NEGATIVE behavior with a choice - cane or rubber hose.

I’m don't recall any canes or rubber hoses, but I certainly remember all the metal rulers that were used as weapons by the Brothers at Iona Prep.

Those were the days.

(Sort of like the Inquisition…which makes me think of a song…)

The Inquisition (What a show)
The Inquisition (Here we go)
We know you’re wishing that we’d go away
But the inquisition’s here and it’s here to stay…

KC's View: