Were the dumpster divers I just saw tonight just looking for food or identity thieves? This is something most people either ignore or call the police on. Not realizing what they are doing calling the cops on people who are already down on their luck. But tonight I’m not sure if that was fully the case. Normally the people who are just looking for thrown out food don’t jump into the dumpster. I’ve never seen these people load up a van full of garbage bags. So did I just see someone sifting through garbage looking for receipts or food? I would hope this grocery store would be smart enough to shed any documents it produces. I wouldn’t think they would throw out any type of drugs into the dumpster. Then again maybe they do and this is what the people were looking for.
Most likely these were some people who are living on a moderate or fixed income. They more than likely don’t have the funds to get them through each month. You would be surprised how many people on social security use this method of scavenging to survive. It’s not just your homeless population taking part in this. I’ve seen very few stores that don’t treat these people like thieves. I guess in the strictest definition they are. Yet why can’t the grocery stores make sure that usable waste gets given to organizations that can use it? Granted many of these people are so full of pride they may not try to put such helpful resources to use. But if your throwing it out – the food or other product isn’t going to help your profit margin any. So why not try to salvage some of what you can and help those in the community that need it?
In the Springfield, IL community some people have made positive efforts to do just this. I’d love to actually link to the Tamara Browning article from The State Register February 24, 2007 edition. But I can’t because it’s not on their site from what I can see. And their site design not to mention their lack of decent search capabilities makes it to much of a hassle to try and hunt it down. For all of their WEB 2.0 speak their actions show they just don’t get it. Then again most traditional media doesn’t. Although they give lip service and all the right catch phrases to the world day in and day out.
Basically the article states some people are making efforts to help. Students from The University of Illinois at Springfield, Maldaner’s, Augie’s Front Burner and the Sangamo Club. I’m sure there have been many others past and present.
I’m not sure why the grocery that was a targeted tonight doesn’t have their dumpster locked down. The old specialty grocery store downtown has always done this to keep the homeless people from having a free meal and some nutrition. Many grocery stores have used compactors for years instead of outside dumpsters. The store in question from tonight has keep out signs posted on the dumpster. But that obviously isn’t discouraging anyone. And honestly what should anyone care if someone is down on their luck and taking what wouldn’t be sold anyway? Then again how do we know the difference between a dumpster diving identity thief and someone who is just needing something to eat so they can survive another day or week?
Without knowing the policies of the store in question. How does the average citizen know when it is an issue needing a call to the police? I’m sure no one with any type of heart would call the police on someone just looking for food. But if your aware that this is some dumpster diving for receipts or looking for thrown out drugs. You might in fact take a different viewpoint to the situation. Not an easy call to make in my opinion.
What I can tell you with almost solid certainty. Is that the Presidential candidates that talk about helping these people and giving them a lift up. Aren’t seeking out an audience with these people. They aren’t doing things different and walking the streets to see the situation for themselves. For most people this is way outside their comfort zone. Which is understandable. But how can you resolve a problem if your unwilling to listen to those that are most effected by it?
It’s time to think outside the box. Take what you see everyday and make it the news. Stop playing follow the leader every day.
Springfield Overflow Shelter —SOS Homeless in Springfield
Contact Ministries Ways to Help
First Presbyterian Church of Springfield Illinois Mission and Justice Ministries
UIS Feature Story Lend a helping hand through the Volunteer Center
Homelessness in the home of Lincoln Beyond The UIS Student Magazine
Illinois – Cold Comfort – The city claims that a solution is on the way – but Springfield’s homeless again must make the best of things as temperatures plummet – Illinois Time