Hello Thursday! We are one day away from the weekend and half through the Food Day principles. Wordy Wednesday really wore me out! But I am back again- if you haven't been following my Food Day series you can check out my previous postings…(FD Overview, FD P1, FD P2).
Today we are focusing on Principle #3: Expand Access to food and end hunger
On the surface I believe this is a wonderful goal- one that farmers and ranchers work towards each and everyday! As a former classroom teacher it broke (& still breaks) my heart to see students you can't focus in class because they are hungry. Most times these students were not receiving any type of anti-hunger assistance from the government. Let's get to digging to find out more about Food Day principle #3.
In the 1st paragraph it states "It is critically important to help eligible people to take full advantage of food stamps, school meals, and other federal anti-hunger programs." "Take Full Advantage" that phrase bothers me. You see I grew up & live in an area where people take full advantage of government programs each and every day. This has caused major economic problems as these programs struggle to meet the needs of their expanding client list. Many of their clients don't need or deserve federal government handouts. I have witness people in true need being turned away from assistance because others have abused the system. I don't believe throwing more money at this problem is going to help. Reforming our anti-hunger programs is what is needed. That reform comes with time limits, expectations, drug testing, and consequences…not more money.
Let me give you an example…a child who receives free breakfast and lunch plus his family receives SNAP (food stamps) walks into my classroom in a pair of tennis shoes that cost $200…he is one of 4, who all got new shoes this weekend and yes they paid full price for each pair…how do I know I was in the store checking out behind them…my son's new shoes…cost $30. This family is not in need of anti hunger assistances they are in need of education and financial planning. (BTW please don't talk to me about Ruby Payne...I understand the concept…but you must break the cycle somewhere…don't keep feeding & funding it!)
Moving on … Food Deserts is a new term to me…apparently it means a place where the nearest grocery store is beyond walking distance for people without cars. Well first let me say that you will never get a grocery store within walking distances of every American without a car. That is a ridiculous thought; however I understand the concept of wanting healthy food access, but how do to accomplish that goal? And putting grocery stores every 2 or even 10 miles isn't the answer.
As farmers and ranchers we work daily to help end world hunger. We are more efficient now that ever. Thanks to modern farming practices, each U.S. Farmer today produces food and fiber to annually feed 155 people in the United States and abroad, compared to 19 people in 1940 (http://www.fb.org/index/php?fuseaction=yourag.facts)
It was well noted a few years back that in Rapid City, South Dakota…PETA supporters were dumping milk-like mixtures down the drain to protest modern milk production methods…SD farmers and ranchers stepped up and donated 65 gallons of milk to a local food bank which was matched gallon for gallon by Ag United. (http://www.newscenter1.tv/stories/3449.aspx) Those farmers and ranchers (most of who were not dairy farmers) didn't just stand there and argue their case, they did something positive…they helped to supply 130 families with safe, nutritious and wholesome milk that is an essential part of a healthy diet.
I believe if we truly want to end hunger then we must NOT rely on overtaxed government programs which many people use as a permanent source of income…we must make a difference individually. So I challenge each of you to step up and donate a bag of groceries to your local food bank or you can donate to my virtual food drive to make a difference in the lives of hungry people.