One Nice Meal Won't Cut It - How You Can Really Help the Hungry This Thanksgiving
During his historic address to Congress, Pope Francis called out Dorothy Day. Scurrying to figure out why, reporters duly described Day as the co- founder of the Catholic Worker Movement, which feeds and houses the urban poor.
It may take her being canonized to fill in the whole picture. Day was also a pacifist, a radical journalist, a socialist, a single mom. Her life story would make for a good superhero movie. In the meantime, it’s worth pointing out that decades before the crisis of today, Day named our economy as the number one threat to the planet and people, to which she proposed alternatives: not charity but food power.
"It may be a sentimental notion," she wrote in 1925, "but I think it would be wonderful to live entirely off the land and not depend on wages for a livelihood."
Famous for shelters – she called them "houses of hospitality" -- Day was clear that soup lines weren’t the answer to poverty. The “real step,” she wrote, were farms.
In the thirties, inspired on a trip South to organize tenant farmers, Day founded Maryfarm, in northeast Pennsylvania which she hoped would become the heart of her movement. The city’s streets pulled her away, but her belief in farming stuck: "I still think that the only solution is the land," Day wrote in 1957. She remained committed to organizing and was arrested in her seventies with striking Farmworkers in California.
As Thanksgiving rolls around and many - even in the media - are struck with the urge to do do something for the poor, it's worth remembering that at least as far as Dorothy Day was concerned, it's not food pantrys that will change things. It's workers with rights, autonomy and food power.
You can watch my interview with Jalal Sabur and Ray Figueroa on food power to unearth the school to prison pipeline, this week on The Laura Flanders Show on KCET/LINKtv and TeleSUR and find all my interviews and reports at LauraFlanders.com. To tell me what you think, write toLaura@LauraFlanders.com.