The Berkshire County Chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America is holding a “Bread And Roses” food giveaway in Pittsfield, Massachusetts from 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday. Chapter member Abigail Childs tells WAMC the event is the climax of a month-long, countywide effort to get fresh, local food to those experiencing food insecurity in the community.
CHILDS: We will be handing out between 100 and 150 bags of groceries. Those groceries will include non-perishable items like canned soup, crackers, canned meat, etc., with also some fresh goods like fresh vegetables from local farmers, bread that, it will be made that morning by a baker in Mill River, sauerkraut and many other goodies. We wanted to give people a wide variety of both shelf-stable food and fresh food.
WAMC: The event has a "Bread and Roses" theme. What's the symbolism of bread and roses to the DSA?
"Bread and Roses" was the rallying cry of a textile worker strike in Lawrence, Massachusetts in 1912. The workers, who were mostly immigrants and mostly women, were fighting for better living conditions and wages. And the "Bread and Roses" relates to- They were looking, they were advocating for better wages, better economic conditions, but also more dignified, sustainable lifestyle. They were looking to be treated more than just cogs in the machine. So the DSA wanted to give people access to high quality food to address the food shortages that many people are facing. A lot of people in the Berkshires are facing tremendous food insecurity right now. But also, treat them with respect and hopefully uplift them a little bit. We will be handing out little paper roses that all our volunteers have made to kind of show that people, even when they are economically disenfranchised, they're still worthy of respect, and kindness and dignity.
From the DSA's perspective, how does food insecurity tie into larger structural issues like racial justice, universal health care, affordable housing, things of that nature?
It's all pretty firmly intermeshed. For example, many people in Pittsfield right now are unhoused. It's very difficult to one get a job if you're not housed because you have no permanent address. You have no place to shower or wash your clothes, you have no place to store food. So it's difficult to find food that is stable enough that you, that it won't spoil. And it's difficult to carry that around with you all day. And it's difficult to find a job so that you can afford more food. And of course, racial justice plays into that by many people are discriminated discriminated against in both housing and employment because of their race or their ethnicity. So that further aggravates any food insecurity that they might be facing.
And what are you hoping people will take away from the experience of getting aid from community members as opposed to more conventional or systemic or institutional sources?
We wanted the community to know that the Berkshire DSA chapter is a community resource. We are directly advocating for their welfare. There is no sort of pity, I guess. Or, this isn't charity. We are helping each other. Many of us are in the same position. We are also food insecure, and we want to- This is just neighbors helping neighbors.
The Berkshire DSA's "Bread and Roses" food giveaway event will be held at The Common in Pittsfield, Massachusetts from 1 to 3 p.m. on Saturday, December 12th.