Monday, March 2, 2009

Am I Just Stupid?

I saw an AP article yesterday in my local paper, which many of you have likely seen. Of course, I can't find it linked on my local paper's website, so here's a link to the exact same article in a paper in Arkansas.

I was really disturbed by this article. The woman won a $100,000 grant for a reason I couldn't find mentioned in the article. She was urged to take a vacation, but didn't. (This led to the question, as an aside, what was the purpose of the grant? Who gave the grant? Did they intend to give grants for vacations?) Instead, she bought 40 digital cameras and gave them to poor mothers to document hunger.

Now, here's my question. Wouldn't those 40 poor families, and many more like them, have been better served had she written a basic guide to eating very frugally, but nutritiously, including the simplest of recipes? She could have had this published through Amazon's Book Surge or Lulu, and I'm sure there are other independent publishers out there. I'm sure $100,000, or even half of that, would have paid to have a lot of copies of such a book published, and she could have simply given them to the welfare department to be handed to everyone who applied for benefits.

I've long believed that poor people could, given the information, cook in a nutritionally sound manner for a small sum of money. A dozen eggs is under $2, as is a pound of spaghetti, and those two items alone would go a very long way to feeding a family of 2, 3 or 4 for a day.

So, was her arranging a photo display of hunger for $100,000 a silly expenditure? Or am I just stupid, and missing something here? After all, remember the old proverb to the effect that if you give a man a fish, you feed him for a day, but if you teach him to fish, you feed him for a lifetime.

16 comments:

gaylen said...

Well - I agree with you. Maybe the photo documentary is to pull on our heartstrings so we will all give more money. But I absolutely agree with you. Teach them to cook, teach them to be frugal, economic ways of preparing, serving and storing food will go much further than the hope that someone will feel bad and give food or money. g

Katherine Aucoin said...

I completely agree with you. It's like here, take a picture of starvation...goes back to the old saying, teach a man to fish...

Tatersmama said...

I agree with you! There are so many better uses for that kind of money ... the possibilities for change would have had a trickle down effect as well. Teach or empower the mothers, who then teach the children.

We have a responsibility to teach a man to fish, don't we?
Otherwise, the cycle just continues...

Channon said...

Wow... But see, THAT is why I don't read the news. How far could the same funds have gone in a partnership with a local food bank and a nutrionist?

noble pig said...

No you are absolutely right. It is all sense and purpose completely lame what she did. The problem with the world today is people don't think...THEY JUST DON't!

You are so right. Now I'm annoyed! Gah!

Pam said...

I agree with you Marjie - education is the key.

jesse said...

Hrmm, I dunno, I can kinda see her thoughts behind it... but I suppose the validity of her actions can only be proven with time. We can only hope that those poor mothers have access to computers and the internet and use their cameras wisely! Although I think your idea about publishing a book on world hunger is extremely wise as well... ahh, I'm torn!!

prairierunner said...

Sounds stupid and just plain wasteful to me. That's what worries me about this whole bailout the government wants to do......how much of it will just tour the toilet.o

The Blonde Duck said...

I agree with you completely. The people know they're hungry. Why do they need a picture?

Paula said...

Hmmm ... I don't know. The Witnesses to Hunger project has raised awareness where a blind eye has been in the past. Their website gives some insight into the project and the reasons behind it. The newspaper article didn't provide much detail, and I think the money she used was from an award and therefore her own. The woman behind it all is pretty active in the social services arena. I sure don't have a good answer for dealing with hunger and poverty, and perhaps the money could have been spent in other ways, better ways, to help these folks. Still, it gave a voice to those who didn't have one before. My daughter just completed a community service project dealing with homeless families in our area, and it was really sobering. There for the grace of God and all that. Again, hmm ... I just don't know.

Paula said...

PS: I admire so much how you put yourself and your thoughts out there! Wish we lived closer so we could grab some of your mini muffins and some tea and sit down and discuss all these meaty issues! :-)

Pam said...

I'm kind of on the fence about this. I agree that she could have used the money better, but I also think the pictures served a purpose.

imjacobsmom said...

It only goes to show you how much waste there is in our government. What is really sad is that is only the tip of the iceberg. I work in a dental office, we have a patient that is on Medical Assistance and Food Stamps. She has cable TV in her living room and bedroom, a Playstation 3, and some type of computer program that she can use over her big screen TV. She was prescribed some type of medication that made her gain weight, she was issued new clothing, underpants, socks, etc. She was advising her teenage daughter - you better get knocked-up soon or go see that psychologist if you want to get your own place. She bought her BOYFRIEND a welder for Christmas, her boyfriends kids a stereo system, she can't clean her own house or cook her own supper - she has fibromyalgia, she has help that comes daily, at our expense - (remember, her boyfriend lives with her), she wanted our Dr. to write her a note telling the food shelf that she should get only name brand food because it would be better for her teeth....Oh brother! Do you turn someone like that in? I'd love to....

Bunny said...

I certainly don't understand alot of what the goverment does. Alot of people just don't cook or bake anymore. They certainly do need to be educated. I don't understand what these people were suppose to take pictures of, an empty fridge, a bare table? What?? And if they can't afford food who was paying for the pictures to be developed??

Violin Mom said...

That is just a brilliant expenditure of money. A digital camera is so important: it goes right down with food, shelter, and clothing apparently. That is like the school districts that spend the money they get on more computers for the classrooms and laptops for teachers to surf the web from their classrooms. How on earth did they teach kids before computers? So annoying. I am going to withdraw from reading the newspaper now. I can't stand it.

Anonymous said...

Noone mentioned that works our to 2,500 dollars for each camera! Or did she spend the rest of the money on her vacation?