Hello all, it’s been awhile since I posted but I read an article in the Washington Post this morning that requires a response. The article by Eli Laslow is here. This article was fine in its writing and theme. I will say, for something getting as much praise on twitter as it has, it lacks much critical analysis. Its seeming objectivity veils the deeper questions that the article raises.
I have no real opinion on the bus service that provides lunches. I do wonder why the churches in Appalachia have failed to take up this important mission. The irony in the bus driver’s name of Bible is not lost, and makes the story that much more poignant. The real issue that I have with the story though is the tale of the Laughren family of six that are hungry and bored. Laslow presents them as victims to be pitied. I have a problem with that.
First, the five children are left home alone with no adult supervision and caring for an infant. While there is nothing wrong with this and it has been done for centuries, it is indicative of a bad situation.
Second, this family gets $593 in assistance. They spent $520 in two weeks and have no food in the house. There are six people, but this should be more than enough for the family for the month. The reason it’s not is made evident in the article. Pre-made sandwiches, Mountain Dew, Dr. Pepper, Doritos, and corn chips. This is what the money is being spent on. There is no examination of this in the article. No critical analysis of why these children have no food or why they are “bored.” There is no solutions offered. No mention of the fact that a box of pasta and a jar of sauce costs three dollars and will provide the entire family with a meal and vegetables. Usually in a situation like this there are lack of options. The lack of quality grocery stores is a problem in many parts of this country including Baltimore City. However, the article stated that there was a grocery store less than a mile from where these folks lived. This is not a problem that Laughren family have.
A better solution than a bus providing bologna sandwiches to these people would be teaching them how to manage the money that is provided to them. A condition of receiving assistance should be classes on financial management. Teach them how to make it work. If they do not want to learn, then that is on them and they are no longer given support. Maybe by spending a little more money on these classes the bus and food costs later will not need to be spent.
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