I was startled to read today in my hometown newspaper, the Washington Post, that some 35,000 children here in the District of Columbia don’t get enough to eat. Since the entire public school system in Washington, D.C., serves only 60,000 kids, more than half of them are starving? Well, not exactly–they’re living “on the edge of hunger,” according to a report issued by a partnership of city government agencies, advocacy groups, and outfits with names such as D.C. Hunger Solutions.
The report advocates spending large sums of taxpayer money–$14 million a year was one figure bandied about–on a massive “anti-hunger” program to “eradicate child hunger by 2016,” including the provision not only of free school lunches and free school breakfasts, as our city currently does, but of free school dinners as well. Hell–why not just move the kids into the schools? The story was one of two alarmist yarns about underfed D.C. children to run today in the Post (one’s not online), together with a hand-wringing editorial about those 35,000 kids (also not online).
Now I don’t know what “on the edge of hunger” means, but I immediately suspected it was a bunch of weasel words. And I was proved correct. Here is how the Post story ends:
“Reuben Gist of the Capital Area Food Bank said that when most people think of hunger, they envision pictures of starving Third World children, but that’s not the picture of hunger in the District.
“‘It’s not about the lack of food,’ Gist said. ‘It’s what’s eaten. You can feed a family on the Dollar Menu at McDonald’s. People short of money buy the cheapest foods. Most of them don’t shop at the major supermarkets, where you can access fresh fruits and vegetables.’
“[Maria] Gomez, the child-care provider, said that 20 percent of the 8,000 children who pass through her two social service and medical centers each year are obese. She said their diet has a high concentration of sugar and flour, such as potatoes, rice and macaroni and cheese. She said she wants to serve dinner at her after-school programs because too many children are not getting the proper foods.
“‘There’s hunger that means no food on the table, and there’s hunger that means not having the right kind of food,’ she said.
OK, so most of these 35,000 kids aren’t actually hungry. In fact, a lot of them are fat. The “anti-hunger” program is actually a program designed to use tax dollars to help overweight children shed some pounds.
I have a few questions, such as: Aren’t fresh fruits and vegetables actually the cheapest foods? No processing and packaging costs, you know? And, um, isn’t it the job of parents, not schools and government agencies, to provide their offspring with good nutrition?