It’s an Epidemic in America

by Kathleen Ryan, SND on March 6, 2012

in Blogs

Let’s face it. If one in four children in your neighborhood had a childhood disease that could permanently threaten their daily well being and future physical health, there would be a full blown outcry and media frenzy. Over sixteen million American children sick! It can’t be happening here!

Yet, 16.7 million U.S. households report they cannot provide adequate or proper nutritional food for their families. Children in schools tell their teacher they are hungry. I live with a sister who is the principal of an inner city high school. Ninety percent of the more than 500 students qualify for free or reduced lunch. She recently introduced a breakfast program in addition to the lunch program. The program began and I wondered if the students were fussy teenage eaters. I asked her, “Are they eating what’s provided?” (Truthfully, some of it didn’t sound too appetizing.)

She looked at me as if I was from another planet and said, “Oh, yes, all of it.”

In 2000, the United Nations introduced the Millennium Goals that all members of the U.N., including the United States, accepted. At the top of the list was reducing global hunger and hunger within the individual countries by 2015. The Food Stamp Program, the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC), the National School Lunch Program, and 12 other nutrition programs run by the U.S. are essential in combating this epidemic.

The government programs aren’t enough. There is a large network of emergency food providers seeking to fill the gaps. It’s still not enough. At the same time, we are providing emergency meals, we need to join with others in advocating to keep and increase federal funding for nutrition programs. Go to the Bread for the World website to join its efforts in urging our national leaders to end hunger. The website if full of ideas on how to join with others to get the message to Congress as well as how to help in the local areas of the country.

The need to work to end hunger in America is an important goal. Hunger in America is real; the solutions are within our reach. Whenever I get overwhelmed about how bad the current situation seems, I remember this conversation between an eleven year old girl and her twelve year old brother that I overheard while working at a hunger center: “Did you eat all the cereal?” she asked.

“Yeah, so what,” he snarled.

“Mom said to save me some,” she angrily replied.

“I was hungry,” he quietly said, to which she replied, “Yeah, well so was I. I didn’t eat yesterday either.”

This epidemic is curable, preventable and can be fixed. It needs us to take that step. Bread for the World gives us all the tools we need to get started. Visit the website today.

Question: Have you ever volunteered at a hunger center? What do you see? Have any other suggestions on how we can get involved?

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Deborah Carlin March 9, 2012 at 6:07 pm

Yes. Street people mingled with children. Moms with infants. Elderly trying to tae some food with them. A leveled group of people with the common denominator of hunger and seemingly every other need. For some the SVdeP of Clearwater is the alternative because they need to pay rent or get medicine

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Kathleen Ryan, SND March 11, 2012 at 12:58 am

Thanks, Deborah, for reminding us how important the ministry and presence of the St. Vincent de Paul Society is in Clearwater and everywhere it operates. It is a beacon of hope for many.

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