While they say that Advent is the season of giving—mostly because it’s Christmas season and it’s a major month for fundraising in general—remember that it’s never a bad time to give. It’s not like worldly problems suddenly go away in January.

Locations like food banks and food pantries are perfect examples of giving all year round, and one Tweeter recently shared just how much they are giving. In particular, this was in response to numerous questions regarding the issue of lying on the application, but it’s surely a thread that got everyone talking.

More info: Twitter

You’d expect food banks to have an anti-cheating system, but turns out some kinda don’t and they don’t have to

Image credits: Georgia National Guard (not the actual photo)

Meet Twitter user @AsToldByKaki, with whom Bored Panda got in touch, who recently addressed a question she often gets as an employee of a food bank in Texas and who thus spends a lot of time around food pantries and distribution centers.

She often gets asked whether people lie and come get food in cases when they don’t actually need it. Her short answer to this was “no,” but her longer answer gave some insight into food banks and how, for some of them, it effectively doesn’t really matter if people are lying or not.

This food bank employee explains why it doesn’t really matter if people lie to get food

Image credits: astoldbykaki

“I tweeted it without really putting a lot of thought behind it after helping out at a food distribution in the August Texas heat,” explained Kaki. “I was tired, and someone asked me the question I so often get asked: ‘do you think people lie about needing food?'”

She continued: “I’ve seen people line up at food pantries as early as 4 am. I’ve seen people borrow their neighbors’ car to come pick up food for their families. I’ve seen people come on bikes, motorcycles, and on foot to carry what they can. Nobody does that for fun. It’s free food, I don’t even see how it can be abused.”

“Do some people ‘need it more than others?’ Sure, but at the end of the day, everybody deserves to eat. Some people get all of their food from pantries, and some supplement what they’ve bought from the grocery store with food pantry food. Both are perfectly fine.”

Image credits: astoldbykaki

You see, Kaki explains that the whole idea of “people abusing the system” of what effectively constitutes a food bank is a myth. Not only is there much more food in supply than there is actual demand for it, but it’s just silly to think that people would stand in line for hours to get a ration just for the heck of it. In other words, there is no reason to lie and it doesn’t hurt anyone in the grand scheme of things.

The real problem is that not enough people are taking advantage of this system. At least for the food bank that Kaki works at, people don’t really need to be homeless, or jobless, or even in extreme poverty to be eligible for this kind of food assistance.

Image credits: astoldbykaki

She further clarified the “we don’t care” part as they still have to fill out a form and everything, and it’s all self-declared so people can get away with lying here, but food is a human right, and having a car or a phone doesn’t mean much because you can still have food insecurity.

“There are just so many misconceptions about food banks, food pantries, and receiving assistance,” elaborated Kaki. “I’ve worked in social services capacities for a long time, both as a volunteer and an employee, and I’ve heard so many stories from people in all kinds of situations. What I’ve learned is everyone’s life is so complex, nuanced, with ups and downs and unique stories. We simply can not judge or place stigma on people who are just trying to get by, especially when it comes to something as essential as food.”

The tweet led to a vast majority of the Twitternet jumping in with their thoughts. Some who also work or worked in food banks shared similar experiences where food banks are overfilled with donations these days with too few recipients. And in any case, they never asked for “proof of poverty.” If it wasn’t charity with the aim of helping, it was at the very least making sure none of it goes to waste.

The short thread sparked a discussion among Tweeters, sharing experiences, thoughts, and other info on the matter

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Others discussed why people would gatekeep food banks and serve as “the Pantry Police.” Turns out, some food banks do have limits if they notice someone abusing the system, so giving regardlessly is not a universal concept in the industry.

Some tweeters also raised a point that the lack of recipients might be things like personal pride—it’s unintentionally dehumanizing in some senses—with others also adding that sometimes the culture of giving is problematic. Sometimes people are looked down upon, scrutinized even because they need help, which only makes the issue worse.

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“I wish more people knew you don’t have to be homeless to receive food assistance. You don’t even have to be unemployed,” noted Kaki. “In fact, a lot of people who receive food assistance work multiple underpaying jobs. Even people who usually get by fine without any assistance can still come to a food pantry if they have a need.”

She continued: “Sometimes people have to pay a large bill, or they get sick and can’t work, so the money that’s usually there for food gets used somewhere else. Those people can still visit a food pantry until they are back up on their feet. Any time someone doesn’t have food, that’s a serious crisis.”

“I also want people to know this: even if you could get by eating peanut butter crackers or your last can of beans doesn’t mean you have to. You deserve to be nourished.”

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The Food Bank employee also explained that there are many “old school” beliefs about getting assistance that are simply no longer true:

“Poverty looks very different than it did even a generation ago. I would encourage people to Google where their nearest food bank is and see if they can volunteer or take a tour.”

Kaki also highlighted the difference between food banks and food pantries. She said that food banks are distribution centers that collect food and in some cases even purchase food at very low costs from the USDA. All of it is then distributed to local food pantries and passed on further to families in need. But some food banks give out food directly, though the former is how it generally works.

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At the very least, the thread sheds some light on what food banks are all about, and that they are still necessary in some parts of the world.

Regardless of opinions, the message of love and compassion in tweet form managed to get nearly 90,000 likes with over 18,000 retweets. Kaki also urged people to learn more about food banks and to consider donating to Feeding America.

And if you need advice on what to donate apart from money, you can read up on it in another Bored Panda article that we’ve featured earlier this year.

So, let us know your thoughts on this whole thing in the comment section below!