It starts with a banana


One of the interesting and most compelling things about this challenge is how quickly a Challenger's viewpoint becomes survivalist. People who generally are very giving and generous are now hesitant to part with any food, fearful that letting any go might mean they will lack later. These decisions are an act of self-preservation, as Jenn mentions, and shows how hunger can supersede our desire to share food with others.

A friend stopped by tonight for a visit. Before leaving he asked if he could have a banana. I had to really think about my answer. I said yes partly because I couldn’t think of a hospitable way to say no, even under the current CalFresh Challenge circumstances, and partly because I wanted to be able to share. Hospitality is a part of what enacts our humanity and I didn’t want to say no. As he was eating, I found myself looking wistfully at the three bananas that remained on the countertop, hoping they will be enough.

I don’t know what sort of profound message might be rooted in this 90 second experience, if any. I’ve tried to write about it but nothing sounds quite right. I was taken aback at my initial resistance to sharing something as small as a banana.

 Thinking about it now, I realize that if I was truly living at the poverty line I likely would have said no. It would have been a choice of self-preservation for me or my family, even if it meant missing out on the gift of participating in the exceptionally human act of sharing food.
 I can’t help but ask myself, What does it mean for our society when people are forced to live so close to the bone that they have to make choices about which loved ones they can feed in the economy of scarcity?