Tuesday, November 2, 2010

School dinners

This is a rather disheartening take on the public response to providing dinner at school for poor kids. Apparently many of us in the US are morally averse to the idea of dedicating public resources to the hungry. I can understand if many initially feel that school is for learning, not feeding, but right now our country is suffering from ever-higher levels of hunger, and since soup kitchens and pantries aren't able to meet the need, it makes sense to give kids meals at school. It may seem like crossing a line in the provision of basic services by the State, but then again we've long ago crossed a line in terms of ballooning poverty and hunger, so this can be seen as a sensible response to that.

As for the supposed $100 shoes and cell phones that these hungry kids have, I can at least speak to my experience working with poor kids in Chicago. Most had ragged clothes and no cell phone, or a hand-me-down phone that they rarely could charge with minutes. We need to get over the myth that the poor in the US somehow have it "way better" than the poor elsewhere, or are poor simply due to their bad choices. When a kid is hungry, and even saves some of the school food to take home to feed his or her family, that is an absolute deprivation that has nothing to do with personal shortcomings. Why wouldn't we in the US want to see our fellow citizens well-fed and able to live up to their potential?

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