by James A. Bacon
The federal government has awarded Virginia an $8.8 million grant, to support a program in the City of Richmond and seven localities in Southwest Virginia to fight child hunger. Elaborates the Times-Dispatch:
The children will receive a third meal before leaving school every day, and they will also participate in an off-hours program aimed at making sure they get healthy good when they’re not in school.
In Richmond, where 80% of school children qualify for free or reduced lunch, the program will aid some of the poorest students, stated Superintendent Dana T. Bedden.
Let us grant that child hunger is a real phenomenon and a serious one. No one wants children to go hungry, not even mean, heartless conservatives like myself. But I’ve got a lot of questions, starting with, what the hell is going on?
As I’ve noted before, the United States dispenses billions of dollars of food stamps every month. Every family who needs food stamps gets them. The families of the poor, hungry children targeted by this program get food stamps. Now, I can buy the argument that food stamps are a minimal form of food support and that it’s darn hard to feed a family on food stamps alone. But let’s say you have a mother and three children, who receive benefits based on a family of four who collectively consume 84 meals a week. Now let’s say three of those children are getting free lunches and breakfasts at schools (30 meals a week). Are we saying that the food stamps are such a pittance, and that the free food provided by churches and food pantries are so inadequate, that the mother can’t feed herself and her children for the other 51 meals a week?
This just doesn’t add up. Something is going on that the care giving class does not appreciate or understand.
Are the benefits of food stamps stretched thin, perhaps, because female heads of household are living with boyfriends contribute little to the family pot yet must be fed?
Do poor parents change their behavior based on the rational expectation that, if they don’t feed their children, they know the state or philanthropic organizations will step in?
Is the problem not poverty, per se, but the fact that mothers are strung out on drugs or otherwise so consumed with their own disordered lives that they can’t get it together to prepare meals for their children?
I don’t know the answer. All I know is that the more food we dispense, the worse food insecurity seems to get. And the only solution that anyone can think of is to shovel more money and more free food at the poor. I worry that we are enabling the very behavior that causes child hunger in the first place.There are currently no comments highlighted.