“Just because I have a car doesn’t mean I have enough money to buy food.”
A sobering piece of news for the holiday weekend, via The New York Times:
This is America: a family crammed in a minivan driving mile after mile across San Diego County, first to one food giveaway and then to another and then to more.
To Mary’s Donuts, in rustic downtown Lakeside, for day-old chocolate frosted, maple-and-bacon glazed and pastries the size of catcher’s mitts.
Sixteen miles west to Jewish Family Service for big, fresh mangoes, boxes of hard-boiled eggs, cheese and lamb stew. Another 20 minutes south to the Ocean Discovery Institute for diapers and school supplies. To the Salvation Army for bottled water, oatmeal, a cake. All of it piled high into the back.
Since the coronavirus pandemic upended her life and so many others’, Alexis Frost Cazimero has spent most days this way, gathering food for her four children as well as neighbors in need. She pulls her packed silver Volkswagen van alongside the BMWs and Mercedeses as they edge their way through the long, snaking food lines. Where else but America can luxury and poverty get so close together that, in essence, they become one?
“I want people to understand, the face of the needy is different now,” said Ms. Cazimero, who has joined a new class of Americans who never imagined they would have to take a spot in a modern-day bread line. “Just because I have a car doesn’t mean I have enough money to buy food.”
The pandemic has exposed the fragile nature of success for millions of Americans: material markers of outward stability, if not prosperity, but next to nothing to fall back on when times get tough.
In conversations around the country this August — at kitchen tables, in living rooms and in cars during slow-moving food lines with rambunctious children in the back — Americans reflected on their new reality. The shame and embarrassment. The loss of choice in something as basic as what to eat. The worry over how to make sure their children get a healthy diet. The fear that their lives will never get back on track.