Sometimes when I skip lunch, by the time dinner rolls around I am starving. Scratch that. I am not literally starving, I am just hungry. It is a slip of the tongue for those of us in the First World.
I also confess that I am a calorie counter, always regulating my daily food intake. Another First World activity. I have that famous (or infamous) book, Eat This, Not That!, sitting proudly on my coffee table in the living room. It reminds me to eat a mayo-free turkey sandwich rather than a stack of greasy pizza slices. Even though my stomach craves those greasy slices of cheese, pepperoni, and baked dough.
I sometimes spend my afternoons with a stomach growling for food. Woe is me.
But if my only problem in this land of plenty is choosing to skip a meal because my calorie count is too high, then I should consider myself fortunate. Especially since more than one in seven Americans are hungry enough to receive food assistance through SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), also known as food stamps.
Yes, 1 in 7 people in America are hungry. With 47.6 million Americans needing help just to eat a meal, we are no longer a land of plenty, but a hungry land.
This is such an ironic state for this nation when it is filled with people who are hungry, while at the same time more than one-third of Americans are obese.
Perhaps obesity in this country is the reason why a large delegation in Congress is trying to eliminate this country’s food stamp program. Perhaps they don’t understand why so many Americans are hungry, when there are so many overweight people here. Just look at the bellies of many of our Congresspersons when they rush (or, perhaps, waddle) toward the news cameras, trying to eliminate a $76 million per year program that feeds hungry Americans.
Sure, these lawmakers say that the increase of Americans enrolling in SNAP – from 2007 to 2011, the program increased by 70% – is the reason why this program should be eliminated or reduced significantly, especially with the need to reduce the federal government’s budget. I’m struggling with this logic.
Of course, I’m still trying to figure out how this wealthy country has so many hungry people.
My only conclusion is that balancing a government budget on the backs of impoverished people is not new in this country.
I think this country needs a new book that reflects a new way of feeding hungry Americans. Instead of Eat This, Not That! we need Do This, Not That!
Chapters could include:
Feed Our Children, Don’t Ignore Them. Keep school feeding programs funded and operating so that every school-aged child can eat a nutritious, filling breakfast. Feeding their stomachs helps feed their minds.
Give Every American the Right to Eat, Don’t be Penny-Wise and Pound-Foolish. Saving federal dollars by letting our people go hungry is just plain foolish. All people should have the right to food.
Prevent Hunger, Don’t Just Fill Stomachs. I know it sounds cliché, but we should be helping people learn how to fish, not just giving them a fish. Ben Franklin would be proud of us if we emphasized hunger prevention programs, like also helping people get jobs. That would be Franklin’s ounce of prevention.
I could fill a whole book with chapters that would ensure this country is fed. Because I know that a program that feeds this country’s hungry children and adults would be the healthiest diet for a hungry America.