Not a beneficiary, need a foodbank

When people talk scathingly about food bank parcels, there’s an assumption that they all go to no-good beneficiaries. maybe a few to the working poor who’ve had a rough few weeks, but it’s mostly the bludgers taking even more from society. Stuff writes a profile about a family who are not visibly poor, but they still struggle to have enough money for food.

The family of six, with two additional children for part of the time in a custody arrangement, are not “poor”. Dad brings home $700 (before or after tax is not specified), and working for families pays another $480, for a weekly total of $1180/week. That’s quite a bit, but it’s not enough. Feeding 6-8 people after rent on a 3-bedroom place (3 bedroom? How the hell do they fit everyone when the extra two kids stay over?), bills, and petrol, can be a struggle. Food bank parcels make it all more do-able.

I feel like the purpose of this article is not actually to make people realise that people from all walks of life need help sometimes. Rather, it reads as an invitation to look at this family’s income and shake the collective head. Here’s how it reads to cynical, aligned with the right, poor-hating eyes:

What is this woman doing having so many bloody kids if she can’t afford it. She’s making her own problems, and then making them worse, breeding all the time. Doesn’t she know how birth control works? Stupid woman should learn to keep her legs closed. And she gave up working just to pop another one out? What did she think would happen, money coming showering out with the baby? Stupid woman, should have thought about it before giving up work.

This family is already getting handouts. $480 of the taxpayer’s money every week? Bloody woman should learn to be grateful for the massive handout she already gets. And her husband has a decent paying job – $17.50/hr! That’s far above the minimum wage. She doesn’t know how good she has it.

What kind of family can’t look after themselves on nearly $1200/week? She’s obviously living way outside her means, and she needs to learn to cut back on whatever it is she’s spending it all on. Are they in some kind of debt? Because that sort of stupid thing would explain the bills being high. Stupid people, spending more than they can afford.

And petrol? If she’s that hard up she should be walking or using public transport. Petrol’s way too expensive to just use willy-nilly. When will these people learn?

Complaining that there’s nothing for people in “that middle bracket”? Lady, whet the hell do you think $480/week is? That’s a huge handout, and it’s so big because you’ve gone and had so many children. It should be enough to feed all those spawn you’ve popped out.

That’s how it reads to me. There’s no compassion – even the food bank woman is quoted as telling people that the food bank is not a supermarket, a very blunt statement to run in the national news. But it fits with the tone of the article, the idea that people bring their situation upon themselves and need to get their shit together and stop relying on the state or other agencies.

Maybe I’ve read the article wrong, and it’s actually trying to create empathy for a family in need. It just doesn’t seem like it to me.

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