CASEY/WILD GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN PRESS CONFERENCE
22 January 2019
Comments of Alan L. Jennings Executive Director Community Action Lehigh Valley
The people who brought us the idea that we as a nation could go as low as to wrench children out of the arms of their immigrant parents have turned that mean spirit on those in our communities who need us. They want to build a monument to xenophobia, to the kinds of base emotions that have no place in this small world.
That poor people have become pawns in the game of thrones is one more demonstration of a way of thinking that is not worthy of the ideals of a great nation.
I want to thank Senator Casey and our new congresswoman (great word, isn’t it?), Representative Wild, for standing up for those who need us, insisting that we leave no one behind.
Every one of us, of course, is affected by our federal government. When that government is down, some of us can survive for longer periods of time than others. How cynical do you have to be to think that taking food from the mouths of children is a good way to settle a political score? Tens of thousands of our neighbors here in the Lehigh Valley are receiving SNAP benefits, child nutrition programs, and other assistance. Yes, we would all like everyone to work. Most do but their skills are not given the value they need to pay the bills. Some can’t; they’re too young, too old, or they have a disability. Great nations don’t use these people as pawns.
The nonprofits that get some or all of their food through the Second Harvest Food Bank serve, collectively, more than 50,000 of our neighbors each month. It has long been our goal that we never find ourselves in a situation where someone among us needs assistance and we have no food with which to respond to that need.
We have not turned a soul away due to lack of ample supply. We have been able to make that bold claim for more than 25 years. So far, we are fairly flush with product. If this shutdown continues, that statement, “We have not turned a soul away due to lack of ample supply” will be relegated to history because of an act of our own making.
So, I want to thank Senator Bob Casey and Congresswoman Susan Wild for believing in the power of collective action by civilized people, meaning government, in ensuring no one is left behind.