Garry Clark: Hey, urban America! Hey, rural America! Did you accept my friend request?
23 Nov 2020
The first time I held a Department of Agriculture food stamp, I was about 8 years old. I’d be asked, countless times, to go to the grocery store off of 14th Street and Rhode Island Avenue in our nation’s capital. In my community, the food stamp, then in paper form, was a shameful thing for kids to be caught with. So I’d stealthily find my way to the front of the store and quickly slip the coupons to the cashier in hopes that my friends or neighbors wouldn’t find out. The sheer fear tied to the embarrassment of poverty was real to me.
But it wouldn’t be until much later that I found that this embarrassment was an America reality. That it was felt by rural kids as much as urban kids. That our food insecurity as urban dwellers also was lessened, at times, by the farms in places like Nebraska. These farms provided a brief remedy to our food needs. The Food Stamp Act of 1964 provided surplus foods to help needy families while also looking to strengthen the agricultural economy. I tipped my proverbial cap to the nation’s farmers, like Feller’s Cattle Company, Herb Alber’s Feedlot, Meiergerd Farms Knobbe Farms, all in rural Cuming County, Nebraska. I’d find that these folks had more similarities than differences with my urban neighbors.