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Sweet Charity?: Emergency Food and the End of Entitlement
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Sweet Charity?: Emergency Food and the End of Entitlement

3.84 of 5 stars 3.84  ·  rating details  ·  86 ratings  ·  12 reviews
In this era of eroding commitment to government sponsored welfare programs, voluntarism and private charity have become the popular, optimistic solutions to poverty and hunger. The resurgence of charity has to be a good thing, doesn't it? No, says sociologist Janet Poppendieck, not when stopgap charitable efforts replace consistent public policy, and poverty continues to g ...more
Paperback, 368 pages
Published August 1st 1999 by Penguin Books (first published August 1st 1998)
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This is an outstnding book that looks at the problem of hunger in the USA. She does not attack the current charity programs, but praises the workers for the work they are doing. She points out that charity is a band-aid and the the true answer to the problem will come through activism to solve it.
Have emergency food programs, originally meant to supplement an ailing system of public services, gained such traction with volunteers, organizations, and governmental institutions that they not only justify their own existence but simultaneously alleviate the burden of poverty and inequality from the public realm?!

Ms. Poppendieck seems to think so, and does a fantastic job of explaining exactly how and why this is the case!

Looking at emergency food programs from about the 1980's forward, Peppen
I've been a staff member at a food pantry for the last three years, and while I enjoy the work, often feel conflicted about the work we are doing, the way we're doing it, and why we're doing it. This is what drew me to this book and Poppendieck touches upon just about all my concerns, especially some of the contradictions within the emergency food world. For example, programs often tout (during fundraising) that their goal is to not have to exist anymore--while building new buildings, starting n ...more
Although a slow read and a little dated at this point (the book was originally published in 1998), this is a fascinating look at and critique of emergency food programs provided by private charities and our increasing reliance on such programs over government entitlement programs which, in principle, view a subsistence-level of nutrition as a basic right and not a matter for charity.
Ok, so I read this book for a class, but it was one of the ones I thought I would have enjoyed even outside the context of grad school. It's really readable, and it raises some very interesting questions about the role of government vs. the role of voluntary organizations in combatting poverty. I will never look at a food drive the same way again.
Thought provoking but a little dry for my tastes. It reinforced for me yet again that it's hard to find a charity to support that is unambiguously good. In this case Poppendieck's premise is that feeding the hungry is good in the short term but harms efforts to bring attention to or address the underlying issues of poverty and inequality.
Interesting read, highlights many victories and challenges for the emergency food movement. Her conclusions and prescriptions may make sense to a sociologist but aren't necessarily economically robust. That side of the equation seemed to be missing.
Christopher Langer
A great primer for those who know little about the history and current (circa 1999) state of affairs of food banks and the emergency food sector.
Not nearly as good as her book about school food, but I still learned a lot. Still, Poppendieck's style is a bit too scholarly to be an easy read.
DNF. There are some good points in here but they are hidden by a lot of trite and far to many anecdotes. It also doesn't help that it is outdated.
Mary Louise
On my Fall Semester 2010 booklist. Shows how most charity organizations, shelters, food banks don't work and why.
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Janet Poppendieck is Professor of Sociology at Hunter College, City University of New York. She is the author of Free for All: Fixing School Food in America; (University of California Press, 2010); Sweet Charity? Emergency Food and the End of Entitlement (Penguin, 1999); and Breadlines Knee Deep in Wheat: Food Assistance in the Great Depression (Rutgers University Press, 1985).
More about Janet Poppendieck...
Free for All: Fixing School Food in America (California Studies in Food and Culture, 28) Sweet Charity? Breadlines Knee Deep In Wheat: Food Assistance In The Great Depression Breadlines Knee-Deep in Wheat Sweet Charity?: Emergency Food and the End of Entitlement

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“By defining the problem as "hunger," the emergency food system is helping to direct our attention away from the more fundamental problem of poverty, and the even more basic problem of inequality.” 3 likes
“We believe that only government has the capacity--not to mention the political and moral responsibility--to promote the general welfare.

Father Kramer as quoted in Sweet Charity?”
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