Every year just before Thanksgiving television crews descend on food banks and pantries and show needy families receiving generous amounts of food. Newspapers feature photographs on their front pages of people getting turkeys. Radio stations interview food recipients and relief agency staff to report how much food is being given away. Churches and charities promote food drives. A few weeks later, more food drives are organized, radios stations present features on hunger during the holidays, newspapers display photos of homeless people, and TV channels exhort viewers to bring food to their parking lots before Christmas.
After Christmas the news pivots to state and national news, college football bowls and crime. Hunger is forgotten, the homeless fade from sight and relief food agencies retire to the background. Many shut-ins among the elderly and disabled still need meals delivered to them. Families with little or no income still need food. Homeless people look for hot meals. Farm workers whose savings have run out borrow money to buy food until work resumes in the late spring. Paychecks and food stamps buy food only three weeks a month. Some people cope with food shortages by rationing food or skipping meals.
The generous Christmas food gifts are a dim memory. Thanksgiving is months away. The hustle for food is relentless. Lines two blocks long form at the food pantries. People arrive at 5:30 am for food distributions that start at 9:00 am. Competition and anxiety dominate the search for food. Hope of food security is tenuous. Too often depression trumps hope. There is plenty of drama in the off months. It is dark and desperate. The glossy pictures of families getting free turkeys, the notion of abundance, the triumph of good will are all absent. Hunger is year round.