Just one day after a federal report revealed that 1 in 7 U.S. families struggled to get enough to eat last year, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack urged lawmakers to reauthorize school nutrition programs that help feed the nation's schoolchildren.
Appearing before the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee on Tuesday, Vilsack said the child nutrition programs provide an opportunity to fight child hunger. A USDA report released Monday said 49 million people experienced what the government calls "food insecurity" in 2008.
"Yesterday, the department released a report showing that in over 500,000 families with children in 2008, one or more children simply do not get enough to eat. They had to cut the size of their meals, skip meals or even go whole days without food at some time during the year," Vilsack said. "This is simply unacceptable in a nation as wealthy and developed as the United States."
In the 2010 budget, President Obama has proposed an additional $10 billion over 10 years for programs to provide meals and improve child nutrition.
It's good the government is doing something, but this state of affairs is shameful. Let's not forget this story from earlier in the month:
Nearly half of all U.S. children and 90 percent of black youngsters will be on food stamps at some point during childhood, and fallout from the current recession could push those numbers even higher, researchers say.
We can and should do better as a nation.
That's not going to change overnight. However, next week is Thanksgiving. If you can, consider donating some time or money to your local food bank (or doing something similar). In my area, the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank claims that they distribute $5 worth of food and product for every $1 donated. A little can go a long way. Thanks.