Growing up, my father taught me that if I had a problem with a clear solution, I should solve the problem rather than waste time complaining about it.

Recently, yet another person on my Facebook feed was complaining about welfare, and I thought about the lesson my father taught me. The post described a person buying junk food for their children with an EBT card. In the comments, there was an outpouring of support for the outrage of the original poster about the use of their hard-earned money going to someone who was going to spend it on unhealthy food.

This sort of post is not new, but this time something stuck out to me about the original post and the subsequent comments: no one offered any sort of solution.

There was plenty of bemoaning the state of affairs in this country and the morality of the person using their EBT card, but there was no mention of any method of improving the situation. While I understand the need to vent frustration, change does not come from complaining. Change is a product of action.

For the sake of not just complaining about complaining, the grievance addressed above needs a possible solution. To solve a problem, one must first try to understand the problem.

Why might someone buy prepackaged, unhealthy food? For one, it’s faster and easier. Prepackaged food is already prepared for you. I’m one of the worst offenders of buying unhealthy food. I’m a 21-year-old woman with (most of) a college degree, but I wouldn’t know the first thing about turning a bag of raw ingredients into a palatable meal. Not only do I not know how to cook anything edible, I also have a limited amount of time to do so, which is another reason food that is already prepared for me is so tempting.

These impediments to eating healthy food are not unique to me. So, if a lack of knowledge and time is at the root of the issue, what is a logical solution for this problem?

Like many things, the answer to the problem of unhealthy eating lies, at least in part, in education.

Educate people on how to use fresh foods. Teach them how to make meals that will last them throughout the week with ingredients that are healthy. Or, if you don’t have the time to educate people personally, advocate for those kinds of educational opportunities. Write a letter to your elected officials.

These are only some of the possible solutions, and they’re more productive than posting an angry Facebook status. You may feel entitled to tell people what not to do with governmental aid, but shaming people for their food choices is not accomplishing anything positive.

When all we do is complain, no progress will be made. Hunger is a real problem in Maine, and we need solutions, not anger.

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