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For most Americans, food is something we generally take for granted. We know — or we firmly assume — that it will be there when we want it.

Most of us have grown up with an abundance and a variety of things edible that many elsewhere in the world can only faintly imagine.

We may see on TV or catch on a computer screen photographs or articles about famines in the Third or Fourth World countries, and we consider for a fleeting moment how thankful we are that we live in a land of plenty. That, we believe, could not happen to us.

Each of us mortals on Planet Earth, however, is just one meal away from hunger. The prospect of gnawing hunger, or even starvation, looms over each one of us, whether we know it or not.

Despite our scientific and technological advances, growth in wealth and escalation of social status, every one of us is vulnerable to food shortages, either caused by natural disasters or man-made ones.

Whereas in centuries past, farmers worried about floods, drought, and predatory pests such as locusts that could wipe out crops and leave them — along with their families and the people who depended upon them — in dire straits, postmodern urban-oriented life has not detached from the need for the land and the food it produces for us.

In truth, today we may be more susceptible to hunger and want than we realize. As we finish breakfast and leave our homes or apartments for work in an office, school, warehouse, shop or factory, we probably do not consider we could lose our opportunities to earn a living and buy the things we need — such as food — or want. Yet, this is exactly what has happened to tens of thousands of our fellow workers.

One year ago this month, the local and national economy looked brighter than it had been in years, as unemployment dipped to record levels. The stock markets hit record highs, and consumers shopped in stores and online, and ate well in their favorite restaurants. Then, almost overnight, everything changed, as a deadly disease swept over the world.

At this writing, pre-pandemic normalcy has not yet returned.

If you are still working and able to provide for yourself and your dependents, you are blessed. When you encounter someone, perhaps a former co-worker who became a casualty of sudden changes in the economy, consider, “There but for the grace of God go I.”

— Everson, who has reported local news for The Beacon since 2000, lives in Deltona

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