BillMoyers.com is proud to collaborate with TalkPoverty.org as we focus on poverty coverage over the next two weeks. Every day, visit BillMoyers.com to discover a new action you can take to help turn the tide in the fight against poverty.
Even though the United States is the wealthiest and most agriculturally abundant country in world history, food insecurity now ravages 49 million Americans — including nearly 16 million American children. This often-overlooked mass epidemic harms health, hampers education, traps families in poverty, fuels obesity and eviscerates hope, while sapping the US economy of $167.5 billion annually, according to the Center for American Progress.
The federal Child Nutrition Reauthorization Bill — which passes Congress and is signed into law by the president roughly every five years – sets the eligibility qualifications, meal reimbursement rates, nutrition guidelines and funding levels for the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program, and for school meals, after-school snacks and summer meals for kids. Unfortunately, the bill that was enacted in 2010 actually had the net result of increasing child hunger, because the bill’s helpful improvement to school meals were paid for entirely by cuts in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, half of which go to children.
This time, the president and Congress should use the bill to increase overall child nutrition funding, enact universal school breakfast and lunches for all students, and make sure the WIC program is available to every low-income pregnant woman and infant who is nutritionally at risk. They must also defeat any attempts to roll back the improved nutritional standards set in the prior bill. For our kids to be well read, they must first be well fed.
Find out more about the bill and access a petition that asks President Obama and Congress to use the Child Nutrition Reauthorization Bill to slash child hunger at my website.
The views expressed in this post are the author’s alone, and presented here to offer a variety of perspectives to our readers.