Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Food Insecurity

Some of my absolute favorite comments have been in regards to posts similar to this one, where I share an article that struck me. Today's article is from Care2 and deals with food security in children. Please share your thoughts!

Those Kids Could Be Hungrier

Sesame Street, the children’s television show that has for decades addressed early educational needs especially for inner city children, has always been at the forefront of combining learning skills with diverse and everyday situations made palatable to the preschool set.
As the economy has worsened and more American children than ever before are struggling with poverty, lack of health care, stable housing, and having enough to eat every day, the show has introduced a new character to help kids understand the issue of food insecurity.
But conservatives have belittled the addition.  After all, American kids aren’t literally starving — they get to eat most of the time, right?
Amanda Marcotte notes a National Review columnist who thinks that not having enough food everyday really isn’t that much to whine about. “[T]he idiom ‘food insecure’ — a term created by the U.S. Department of Agriculture — means one has either ‘reduced quality, variety, or desirability of diet’ or ‘disrupted eating patterns and reduced food intake.’ So, far from hungry or starving, Lily suffers from a much less dramatic condition — unpleasant to be sure, but at its core, just a somewhat boring, irregular, and occasionally reduced diet.”
An “occasionally reduced diet” is “unpleasant?”  Unpleasant is when you added too much salt to the soup, or when your broccoli gets a little overcooked.  Food insecurity is about children who only get meals when they show up for school, who have to choose between having lunch or dinner on a weekend because there isn’t enough groceries for both.  Kids who never get to see a fresh fruit or vegetable or only get to eat what their parents bring home from work at the end of the day after waiting tables in restaurants or working the counters of fast food.
The columnist then mentions all of the myriad of places that the poor can get food easily — WIC, food stamps, free school meals, charity food banks and “church-run food assistance.”  All of which, except for the church groups, the conservatives have been doing their best to defund while they defend tax cuts for millionaires.
Then again, they are trying to defund PBS as well, but that doesn’t seem to stop her from having her child watch Sesame Street.

As someone who's lived with food insecurity and received help from some of the resources above while growing up, and as an educator who has worked with children who only eat what they are served at school, I respectfully disagree that food insecurity is not a serious problem and that the resources we currently provide are sufficient. The fact that the term 'food insecurity' spans such a wide spectrum does not mean that no or few people sit at the more desperate end of the spectrum, it simply means that it's a very broad term. I would love to hear your thoughts!