[Setting: The Halls of Power]
Guy in Suit: The media keep saying that there are hungry children in America.
Other Guy in Suit: Let them eat dinner.
Bleeding-Heart: That’s the problem. They don’t have dinner to eat. Or even breakfast maybe.
GIS: We already give them lunch at school. That’s five days a week.
B-H: Unless they’re absent or on vacation or a snow day.
OGIS: Then it’s the parents’ problem.
GIS: Why do schoolchildren have so many vacations, anyway? We don’t get all those vacations.
B-H: Uh, yes you do.
GIS: Oh. Well, never mind that now. We were talking about tax cuts…uh, job creators…uh, feeding children. That was it.
OGIS: Suppose the media are right?
GIS: The media are never right unless we tell them what to say.
OGIS: Well, just suppose. For a minute. OK? The problem I see is that it looks good for us to feed poor, hungry, starving American children. By the way, are they as pitiful-looking as poor, starving foreign children?
GIS: Probably not. You were saying?
OGIS: If there are hungry children, and we do need to feed them, how are we supposed to do that without feeding the lousy, lazy, good-for-nothing moochers at the same time?
GIS: Ah, yes, the parents. If we give the parents anything, it should be one bag of rice and one bag of beans. And — hey — they could feed their kids that too.
B-H: But children need good nutrition — fruits and vegetables and vitamins and minerals and enough to keep them full and healthy.
OGIS: Hey, we have plenty of minerals left over after fracking. Won’t those do?
GIS: But if we give kids all that fancy food, what’s to keep the parents from eating it?
OGIS: Or selling it for booze or cigarettes or drugs?
GIS: Think about that! The drug dealers would be getting all the good nutrition. Then they could run faster from the police.
OGIS: We can’t have that, now can we?
B-H: But…the hungry children? Remember? Eating at most one meal a day, five days a week, when school is in session?
GIS: That’s plenty. I heard American children are obese, anyway. They could stand to lose a little weight.
I thought it was time to revisit this post when my husband and I visited IHOP for their No Kid Hungry promotion, which raised money for www.nokidhungry.org. (You can donate at their website. I did. Besides buying all those pancakes.)
I was also reminded of a conversation I had with someone who works in the education sector. She was at a conference, talking with a group of teachers. One of them mentioned how many snow days they had that year and my friend responded, “Oh, boy! I bet the kids loved that!” There was an awkward silence. Finally, one of the teachers spoke up. “On a snow day,” she said, “many kids don’t get to eat. The only real meal that they get is at school.”
My friend had never thought about that, and neither had I. We both came from times and places when there was always food in the fridge and a hot dinner on the table. Sometimes we forget that life isn’t like that for everyone.
In this election year, we’ll hear a lot about welfare and funding for schools and improvements in educational policy. Childhood hunger may not be mentioned, but it is intimately tied up with all those issues.
You can donate to local food banks and charities. You can work with nokidhungry.org. Or you can leave it up to the Guys in Suits, for whatever they think it’s worth.