One in four children are in danger of going hungry every night says the U.S. Department of Agriculture in a new report on “food insecurity.” The report, tallying numbers for 2009, indicates the rate has not changed for the second year in a row. For both years, 45 million people in the U.S. went to sleep on an empty stomach.
The numbers tell a terrible tale of undernourished bodies and minds, the long-term consequence of which will be felt for decades.
As the report on American hunger hit the news, Congress in its lame-duck session is under pressure to pass the Hunger Free Kids Act, already approved by the Senate but still requiring a thumbs up from the House. The $4.5 billion bill, however, due to GOP demands, will be paid for cutting back a food stamp increase approved last year in the economic recovery act.
Yes, that’s right: some hungry families will go hungry, so that other hungry children can eat. Perhaps this make sense to the corporate fat cats and their Tea Party fan clubs and their “get-a-job” mentality.
It doesn’t to us. For every one job offered today, there are five job seekers, according to government reports, to say nothing of the tens of millions who are not in the official job market.
Recently Over 1,100 heath and children’s and nutrition organizations sent a letter to Congress demanding that the Hunger Free Kids Act be passed.
The Obama administration has promised that should this happen, administrative and other measures will be taken to put the money back before the cuts go into effect in 2013. Included in this pledge a goal to increase access to Supplemental Assistance Nutrition Program resources, the official name given now to the food stamp programs.
The Obama administration’s goal of ending child hunger by 2015, a once realizable objective, may now fall to the unfortunate compromises made to pass this and other necessary legislation. This issue will grow far worse when the Tea Party moves in to Washington in January.
But the fight will not be forgotten; the lesson will be learned. The battle for tomorrow is being shaped by the cuts to help the hungry today.