Empathizing, Highlighting or Slumming?

Not sure what to think of this story about the Governor of Oregon’s dietary plans–namely, to feed himself on the $3 a day allocated to Food Stamp recipients.  It’s great to the extent that it highlights the need for increase in Food Stamp allocations to people for whom living on the chits is not an act of noblesse oblige.  Presumably, that’s what the Oregon Food Bank, sponsor-authors of the "Food Stamp challenge," had in mind. 

But the Nonprofiteer lived in Chicago when Mayor Jane Byrne moved into a public housing project to–what?  Well, it turned out, to make headlines, not to make change.  So she’s awaiting further action from the temporarily deprived Governor.


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2 Responses to “Empathizing, Highlighting or Slumming?”

  1. Mary Ann Payne Says:

    I agree this might be grandstanding, but I applaud the Governor’s efforts whatever his motivation. When we were grad students in Chicago in the ‘60s, we undertook a similar challenge for Lent on the recommendation of the Council of Churches. I thought it would be a breeze because we were already living on pennies and the Council provided menus and shopping lists. At the end of the third week, when one of the two eggs my husband and I were to share for breakfast was cracked and inedible, I broke down in tears. I cheated and borrowed half a dozen from my neighbor, but I never forgot the lesson. Now I write grants and provide management support for small non-profits who are making small but important changes in the quality of life for people who are struggling to find a way out of poverty.

    Thanks for pointing out the inconsistencies in the non-profit world. I’ve been burned many times, too.

    Mary Ann Payne

  2. Nonprofiteer Says:

    You tell such a powerful story that I actually dreamed of trying to live on a food-stamp budget. Thanks for reminding me that symbolic gestures have a reality of their own, even if they’re not a substitute for direct political action.

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