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Beginner's Heart

Beginner's Heart

hungry children and politicians

hungry childI have never understood letting children go hungry. Children are our most precious, irreplaceable resource. NOTHING trumps feeding children, and certainly not politics.

The American government — in the guise of the Republican house — just voted to let children go hungry. You can frame it as you like, but in 2014 about 22 million children will go hungry without SNAP. And why? Why is it more important to let children go hungry than…?

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I don’t get it. We can afford war, obviously. We can afford junkets for Congress, and pretty lavish Congressional salaries. We seem to be able to afford everything but what most impacts children: food & education.

As a mother, as a teacher, as someone who aspires to a moral life, this troubles me profoundly. There isn’t a religion I know of that doesn’t place a high premium on feeding the hungry, caring for our children. Across spiritual borders, hungry children are seen as particularly vulnerable. Our charge is, always, to make sure we care for them. hunger graphic

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But apparently, if we give it acronyms (SNAP), or long words (Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program), we can pretend it’s something other than what it is: essential FOOD for children, the elderly, the poor. Many of these children — 10 million — “live in ‘deep poverty,’ with family incomes below half of the poverty line.” In case no one remembers, $23,550 is the poverty line in the US for a family of four. My nephew, raising three children by himself, makes minumum wage. In Oklahoma, that’s about $9,000 BELOW the annual poverty line: $7.25/ hour x 40 hours weekly (which he can’t always get), x 50 weeks (just in case he really ever got his two weeks of vacation) = $14,500.00. GROSS, folks — not take-home.

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Without food stamps, my nephew’s family would go hungry  many nights.  His mother helps. My niece helps. We all do a little. But where is the infrastructure for the working poor? He’s a veteran, struggling to provide a very  minimal life for three young children. And the Republican Congress thinks he doesn’t deserve this?

child povertyI am so angry with people who can’t POSSIBLY know a thing about real poverty that I could, as my great-aunt Bonnie would say, spit. There is nothing shameful about poverty. There is something morally reprehensible about asking children to go hungry for your politics.

Seriously? Where is the morality in this? And please tell me: what kind of ‘family values’ are these…?

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