News from Gainesville’s Home Van Food Pantry

by arupa freeman

The Home Van Food Pantry is doing a very large business as things continue to go badly, both in terms of the economy and the access to food in the downtown area.  The Salvation Army has stopped serving dinner except on Fridays and is planning to drop meal services all together at the end of the year.  There are also people coming down from Dignity Village to receive food, since the kitchen at Grace is not yet operational.  Although we are a food pantry for homeless people, some elderly people who have (thank God) a roof over their heads but not much else, are also coming to receive food. We do not discriminate.   Some people would like to be going to Grace for meals but they’ve lost their bus pass (as you may recall, the city gave out permanent bus passes to homeless people earlier this year).  They have been told that bus passes can’t be replaced.  It is  hard to keep track of one’s belongings living of the streets (it’s hard enough living inside, as I’ve discovered), and one’s belongings are much more likely to be stolen if you’re homeless.  There is also the photo ID problem.  If you lose your photo ID you cannot get service at a food pantry or many other places.  That is bureaucratic cruelty.   Under the Patriot Act photo IDs are very hard to get and even harder to replace.  Is our society really going to let people starve because they don’t have the right pieces of paper?  Sounds to me like something out of Germany in the early 30s.  My Jewish friends often say that we must never forget history, particularly that history, because, among other things, it teaches the lesson that good people can be lulled, one step at a time, into unspeakable evil.

We might need some civil disobedience.  I am dealing with an extremely boring but non-threatening ailment called Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, so I can’t organize civil disobedience events or rallies at this time.  Maybe someone else could take this on.   “HEY HEY BUREAUCRATS, HOW MANY PEOPLE WILL YOU STARVE TODAY”.  Well, surely one of you can come  up with something better than that.

In case anyone is wondering, yes, I am angry about all this.

Some of you may be wondering why we still have homeless people downtown.  There is the bus pass problem, the problem of people with mental illness who are afraid or unwilling to go outside their comfort zone, the old hermits who just don’t want to, and others who for various reasons don’t want to be way out on the edge of town.  I think Grace Market Place and Dignity Village are evolving into good places that will solve the problem of homelessness for many people, but in the meantime, everybody has to eat today and tomorrow and all the other days of the week.

In the meantime, I also have a lot of gratitude for the support so many of you are giving to to our little food pantry.   There are even elves who drop food through the hole in the screen and disappear!

At this time, we are particularly in need of donations of small jars of creamy peanut butter. Chunky soups, canned meats, beenie weenies and anything Chef Boy Ardee are also much appreciated.

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