Let’s Make Sure We Feed Those Who Are Hungry

Being hungry is no joke

hungry

I laugh at the commercials for a best-selling candy bar that shows what happens when we’re hungry. “You’re not you when you’re hungry,” the tagline goes, and it shows people being mean, nasty, downright short-tempered, and violent when they’ve not eaten. Of course in the ads all that hostility can be cured with the yummy candy bar and the lesson–eat something good before you become “hangry,” a concoction of hungry and angry.

The ads are pretty hilarious but being hungry is no joke. I grew up on a farm and I have been tired and irritable about the long, grassy rows of cotton and the acres and acres of okra, peas, and squash to be picked, but never hungry. I’m not bragging, I’m simply saying I’ve never gone to the refrigerator and found nothing in there but the lightbulb.

As a diabetic, one of the hardest things for me is eating several small meals instead of the big three I really enjoy. I keep my numbers under tight control but I can tell when I’ve gone too long without eating. I can’t concentrate and I’m not at my best.

I felt a kick in the gut today when I read about proposed cuts to school lunches and to families receiving supplemental food assistance. With all the conversations about “food insecurity,” and how families are barely scraping by with the help of food banks and churches, why have we begun this conversation with children and vulnerable families?

One proposal said 500,000 free lunches could disappear while three million families living on the edge of poverty could be affected through reduced benefits. When I’m out volunteering at schools, hungry children are easy to spot—they’re the ones who don’t complain about whatever is for lunch. They eat what’s on their plate and would help themselves to their friends’ leftovers if rules permitted.

Of course there are families who don’t follow the rules for use of their supplemental food funds but the few instances of fraud and waste aren’t/can’t be our main concern in this “land of plenty” where so many people, especially children and their mothers,  go to bed without adequate nutrition.

We often make the case that if you work hard, anybody can get ahead. We need to work more strategically to make this a reality because we have it all wrong about worth and our work. Heads of families are working harder than ever but still not “making” it.

When I worked at the University of Memphis I whined (to anybody who would listen) about basketball head coach John Calipari’s clothing allowance. He earned more in his allowance than I made in my whole salary, plus benefits. And yes, he always looked like the million or more bucks he earned but that’s beside the point!

An NBC News article last week chronicled how some South Carolina teachers were moonlighting in a pharmaceutical factory to make ends meet. According to the report, South Carolina has one of the lowest starting salaries in the country, and the teachers weren’t earning enough to pay student loans, mortgages, and stay on top.

The following day news from the Pentagon said military families around the country were regularly relying on “federal food assistance, charities, or loans from family to make ends meet…” A variety of factors—“the high cost of living in cities near military bases, difficulty qualifying for federal food assistance, and a transient life that makes it challenging for spouses to build careers,” is making it tough to thrive.

My friends, whether it’s hungry children, teachers who are underpaid in every place, military and other families who can’t soar—you fill in the blank—we can do better, and we must.

Do share your thoughts on making ends meet via Twitter and Facebook at #drbondhopson.

Looking for inspiration, empowerment, uplift, straight talk, an encouraging word to brighten your day? You’ve arrived! Meet Dr. Cynthia Ann Bond Hopson, best-selling author, educator, inspirational speaker, sistergirl–she’s all that and more. All the way from Stanton, TN (you can’t get there from here) to 50 states, six continents and everything in between, she’s wise, witty and altogether wonderful. She enthusiastically invites you to slow down, sit a spell, and share a giggle or two.

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