I live in one of the poorest most economically depressed counties in the entire United States. It’s a place where English is most often the “second” language and where individuals follow the fruit and vegetables, often picking in 100+ degree heat. It is a place where poverty is rampant but food in the fields is abundant, illegal drug use is prevalent and the gulf between “haves” and “have nots” is wider than the Grand Canyon. Frankly, there is no bridge big enough to traverse this giant chasm.
Make no mistake about it, I am a “have.” I have a roof over my head, money in the bank, and clothes on my back. My life is plentiful. But all around me are reminders that this just isn’t the case for so many. I do what I can…carry McDonalds cards in my car and hand them out to folks who need a meal. But that is just a miniscule drop in the bucket with what is truly needed in the area.
Today on the short drive from downtown I saw three different adults searching trash bins for bottles and cans that can be turned in for change. And while it is shameful that any human being is forced, for whatever reasons to live this way, I am not as worried (though I am concerned) about them because they are resourceful. It is the children that I worry about especially during the summer, for it is the children who suffer.
During the school year kids from low income homes have the opportunity to have free breakfast and lunch at school yet President Trumps budget calls for an elimination of this program. In my county alone 76.2% of households qualify for free or reduced price meals. As a result we know that our locals kids have two meals a day. But when summer comes what are the options? Sure there are some organizations that pack lunches for kids and hand them out. There is also the local library which has a summer food program. But what about those kids who lack the transportation to get to these food centers? What about the kids whose parents are too stoned to give a shit enough about them to make sure that they have food in their bellies? What happens to them?
Hunger is something that no one anywhere should have to endure. There is an overabundance of food in so many places. It should be a human right that food is available to all the citizens of the world. But its not and never will be for so many complex corporate, political, and totally illogical reasons. And what happens to the most vulnerable is horrific and shameful. In the best case their hunger interferes with their ability to learn and retain information. In the worst case they starve to death in agony a little at a time.
It’s time that we recognize the damage that hunger does to all the world’s citizens. And it is time to move politics to the side in regards to this issue. Children are our future and without adequate food their future is dimmed. And while I am not sure of how to implement the answers to this problem I do know that these kids shouldn’t have to wait while we argue about the best policies that need be put into place. Every day is a wasted day when food policy is inadequate and no child should have to carry those wasted days on their back as they stand in line…waiting for something to eat.