Hunger: Alive and well in the U.S.

Elsie Speck
Carbondale resident

One in five U.S. kids go to bed hungry.  For most of us that’s hard to comprehend — but it is real. One wonders why, in a country which lauds itself on being the richest and most powerful country in the world, we can let our children and families go to bed hungry.

Isaiah 58:10 states: “If you give your bread to the hungry … your light will rise in the darkness.” Our Congress is a long way off from letting its light rise but wishes to remain in the darkness of injustice as it is adding more children and families to the hunger rolls.

Congress claims that cutting the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, which is commonly known as the Food Stamp Program, and knocking more kids off the school breakfast and lunch programs will help reduce the deficit. The program, now under siege by the Congress, has effectively helped millions of families survive tough days and at least put food on the table.  Instead of strengthening and supporting the program, Congress will squeeze it enough so that it becomes a block grant.  In doing so, the program will lose a lot of its flexibility.

Why does Congress like to tinker with the lives and well-being of everyday Americans trying to make ends meet?  If it is serious about deficit reduction, it needs to look at the behemoth called the Pentagon. According to the Friends Committee on National Legislation, Congress approved legislation in 2011 that requires the Pentagon’s spending to be reduced by $1 trillion during the next 10 years.  The recent Ryan budget supported by many in Congress does not touch Pentagon spending.

This is some kind of a bad joke on the American taxpayers, all while they are aware that many of their siblings who struggle with the basics of daily life. According to a march FCNL March newsletter, the Pentagon has “lost, wasted, and misspent more than the total budgets of 5 other federal departments … equal (to) $97 billion.” Why are we so hell-bent on trashing the lives of the poor when wasted money could do much to reduce the deficit?

This trivial spending and wasting of federal dollars must be a concern to our community.  Our state receives federal dollars, and the more the Pentagon gets, the less the state gets in the form of block grants.  The TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) is such a program. Beginning July 1, Illinois will remove 3,000 families from the program. This will affect some 6,000 children, thus adding to the one-in-five children going to bed hungry. These children will be at risk of inadequate nutrition. It’s all tied to the federal government and its priorities, and if those priorities are bombs over bread, bombs are going to win, and people go hungry.

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