Monday, December 12, 2011

12 Days of Christmas - a partridge in a pear tree

Instead of a partridge in a pear tree let's consider a chicken in every pot. And I don't mean in the classic sense, like what Hoover promised.

It wasn't just chicken. During the presidential campaign of 1928, a circular published by the Republican Party claimed that if Herbert Hoover won there would be "a chicken in every pot and a car in every garage."

What I mean is as a nation we all need to come together to combat hunger. We need to take real steps to ensure that not a single child goes to bed hungry. We need to as a nation allocate resources to ensure schools are providing healthy meals. No more pizza as a veggie. No more french fries as a veggie. Many children depend on their school lunch as their principal source of nutrition. Do we want them eating empty calories or getting solid, brain building  nutrients.

Furthermore how can we expect working Americans to work at their optimal best when they are food insecure. Worrying about paying their bills and literally putting food on the table. What about parents who forgo their own nutritional needs to ensure there is more for their children to eat.

Understand I am not advocating for welfare or another government program - the Bickerson aka all of Washington can take a long cruise for all I care, they are useless and would only argue about it and then try to scam off the top. I am talking about small grassroots efforts. Stop hunger in YOUR community. Act locally. Work to change laws and ordinances which take food out of the mouths of the poor. Did you know in many areas it is illegal for restaurants to give food away? What about surplus from groceries... the food is in our communities, it is getting it to those who need it that is the challenge.

Food Insecurity and Very Low Food Security[2]
  • In 2010, 48.8 million Americans lived in food insecure households, 32.6 million adults and 16.2 million children.
  • In 2010, 14.5 percent of households (17.2 million households) were food insecure.
  • In 2010, 5.4 percent of households (6.4 million households) experienced very low food security.
  • In 2010, households with children reported food insecurity at a significantly higher rate than those without children, 20.2 percent compared to 11.7 percent.
  • In 2010, households that had higher rates of food insecurity than the national average included households with children (20.2 percent), especially households with children headed by single women (35.1 percent) or single men (25.4 percent), Black non-Hispanic households (25.1 percent) and Hispanic households (26.2 percent).
  • In 2009, 8.0 percent of seniors living alone (925,000 households) were food insecure.
  • Food insecurity exists in every county in America, ranging from a low of 5 percent in Steele County, ND to a high of 38 percent in Wilcox County, AL.[3]
Nine states exhibited statistically significant higher household food insecurity rates than the U.S. national average 2008-2010:1
United States                    14.6%
Mississippi                          19.4%
Texas                                    18.8%
Arkansas                              18.6%
Alabama                              17.3%
Georgia                                  16.9%
Ohio                                      16.4%
Florida                                  16.1%
California                             15.9%
North Carolina                   15.7%


What is food insecurity you say? It is not knowing if you can afford your meds and food. It is not being able to afford the barest and I mean the barest minimum as outlined by the USDA to meet nutritional needs. 

It is having a budget so tight that anything unexpected means the next weeks meals are in question. A school yard accident, a car or truck that breaks down, a cold or flu or other illness that means you can't work for a few days and your employer has no sick pay policy - because it is cheaper that way. A sick child, who cannot go to day care and you cannot work.

This is not rocket science. This isn't a case of famine, crop failure, warlords looting and misdirecting aid. This is simply a case of all of us failing to do enough 365. I am also guilty of this. I need to be more proactive about giving food to the food pantry.

I can hear my detractors, the poor deserve to be poor, they made bad choices, they make poor choices at the grocery, the seniors should have saved more, spent less, and planned ahead, the poor choose to do drugs, or they have too many children.

And maybe that is all true, BUT we cannot solve all of the causes of poverty overnight. We can, I believe end hunger. We could end hunger in the United States right now, this year if we decided that is what we are going to do.

One of my pet peeves about the Christmas season is that we over hype this one day or in fairness two days and there is a crush to show support for some many causes. What about the other 364 or 363 days. What about a rainy day in March and the cupboard is bare? Christmas a distance memory.

To answer L's questions about my beef with "Christmas" and what I think will likely be the over arching theme in my 12 days series - is why is it so important that "those people" have a "good Thanksgiving" or "a good Christmas" when "those people" are hungry every other day of the year.

Among members of Feeding America, 74 percent of pantries, 65 percent of kitchens, and 54 percent of shelters reported that there had been an increase since 2006 in the number of clients who come to their emergency food program sites.4
This is not acceptable in my opinion. There is no reason that this number is increasing. We live in a land where food is abundant. This is not communist Russia in the 80s and it is not sub-Saharan Africa, this is the United States and we have ample food. No one and I mean no one should be going hungry. In my opinion no one should be eating a processed food diet either, but this year, I will be happy if we all make the pledge to do what we can to end hunger.

That is the Partridge in THE PEAR TREE this holiday season.

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