New York Times food columnist, Mark Bittman, has stopped eating to protest the draconian cuts by the U.S. Congress to programs that provide meager food security to indigent and working poor people.
In 2010, corporate profits grew at their fastest rate since 1950, and we set records in the number of Americans on food stamps. The richest 400 Americans have more wealth than half of all American households combined, the effective tax rate on the nation’s richest people has fallen by about half in the last 20 years, and General Electric paid zero dollars in U.S. taxes on profits of more than $14 billion. Meanwhile, roughly 45 million Americans spend a third of their posttax income on food — and still run out monthly — and one in four kids goes to bed hungry at least some of the time.
Central Texas has it a little better than the rest of the state but not by much.
In Texas, 1.4 million people experience hunger daily. Almost 15% of all of its inhabitants are hungry or food insecure. Texas has the highest food insecurity rate among children in the nation. Many of the 3 million children in Texas who participate in the free lunch program go without a meal on the weekends and when schools are closed for the summer. Source: Texas Hunger Initiative, Baylor University
And yet the cuts proposed by the Republican ruled Congress would assure that those have the least have less yet.
The budget proposes cuts in the WIC program (which supports women, infants and children), in international food and health aid (18 million people would be immediately cut off from a much-needed food stream, and 4 million would lose access to malaria medicine) and in programs that aid farmers in underdeveloped countries. Food stamps are also being attacked, in the twisted “Welfare Reform 2011” bill.
Mr. Bittman is the first one to admit that his fast in protest of our collective heartlessness will do little to put food on the table for poor people in America.
But recognizing that we have a problem is a start.
In Texas, we can help by fixing the SNAP eligibility system, providing sufficient funding for the Child Nutrition Reauthorization Act and supporting the Capital Area Food Bank which gives immediate food relief to people who are having a hard time making ends meet.
Why We Are Fasting by Mark Bittman