Saturday, May 9, 2015

SNAP makes a man's story

SNAP (formerly called food stamps) makes a difference for families!  How do I know?  Well, I know that it made a difference for this family, whose story I heard this week.

Svante Myrick is the Mayor of Ithaca.  He was elected to the City Council while still a student at Cornell and the age of 20.  Four years later, he was elected Mayor.

So, that tells you what an amazing young man he is, right?

Wait until you hear the rest of the story...

His family became homeless when they were evicted one week after he was born.  The entire first year of his life found his family both food and housing insecure.  His single mom worked two jobs and still struggled to make ends meet.

According to Mayor Myrick, it was food stamps (as it was then called), free meals at school, and when those weren't enough, the local food pantry, that kept his family afloat, that let him and his siblings grow up healthy, do well in school, and succeed as adults.  Not that it was easy - he worked three jobs to get through college, but when he was younger, those programs kept his family together and focused on the future.

As Mayor, he has made Ithaca a "living wage" city.  His focus on economic development, combined with education is actually reducing poverty.

But he puts food at the top of his list for solving the problem of poverty.  He commented about how we all hear the question, "Well, are you giving them a fish, or teaching them to fish?"  He responds to that question with a question or two of his own..."Have you ever tried to teach a hungry man to fish?  Have you ever tried to teach a hungry man anything?"

Indeed, Mr. Mayor.  Hungry children don't learn so well either!