A Simple and Clear Demand
Written By Kokayi Nosakhere – Lead Coordinator of the By2015:AMERICA Movement
American politics demands an intelligent, active citizenry. Democracy is a dynamic conversation. Without the compromise produced through vigorous debate, Bills that pass will only serve those who support the elected remaining in position. On December 9, 2011, Dr. Cornel West reminded the American citizenry of their vital role in the process of BEING America.
I found Dr. West’s lecture inspiring. It confirms a conclusion fashioned two years ago within a Leadership Anchorage think tank. To address child hunger inAmerica, we do not need another organization – we have enough. Nor do we need another spokesperson, we have Bill Shore(Share Our Strength) and Jamie Oliver (Food Revolution), who are ably representing the Cause on the National level.
What we need to address child hunger in theUnited States, where 19.5 million children are hungry, is GREATER PARTICIPATION on behalf of the Community and Government – simultaneously.
We Americans live in theFirst World. We actually possess the infrastructure to feed all of our children. Our school breakfast and lunch program – the United Nation’s number one recommendation for addressing child hunger – is effective. We perfected it in 1975. All studies emphatically conclude that FEEDING CHILDREN INCREASES EDUCATIONAL ACHIEVEMENT!
The absorption of education is the immediate benefit of school feeding programs – in business terms. I think in human terms! In human terms, feeding programs keep people alive!
In my beloved neighborhood, 400 out of 475 children attending Fairview elementary school benefit from the school breakfast and lunch program. InMountain Viewthe genius of 1,154 children is preserved by both programs. Again, school feeding programs are effective.
Amazingly, not all elected officials agree.
In 2010 Senator Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) sponsored Senate Bill 3307: The Healthy, Hungry-Free Kids Act. Recycling unspent monies in the federal budget, the Bill put an additional 6 cent towards the reimbursement tables Districts receive for distributing school meals. Because it was an election year, the Bill sailed through the Senate. Not one Senator objected to the Bill.
Then, it landed in the House of Representatives, where the Bill encountered fierce resistance. The First Lady herself stepped in. Still, 157 elected officials felt confident enough in re-election bids to vote AGAINST helping School Districtsfeed of our children – during a Recession!
Amazingly, they found an excuse – and effectively sold it to their communities – for doing so.
Urged by the anti-hunger network in Alaska Bill Wielechowski sponsored Senate Bill 213: The School Meals Bill. (SB 213) It adds $2 million of State funds toSchool Districtbudgets to cover a $2.1 million shortfall the federal reimbursements do not. With increased participation of only 8009 more students state-wide, SB 3 pays for itself – through the federal reimbursement. The Bill predates Blanche Lincoln’s experience by one year. Wielechowski put forth SB 213 in 2009. Despite the level, his experience was worst than hers.
SB 213 passed the Senate, entered the House Finance Committee and languished there.
In 2010, since the shelf-life of a Bill is two years, SB 213 died in Committee.
Undaunted, Sen. Wielechowski sponsored Senate Bill 3 (SB 3), essentially SB 213. Again, the Bill passed the Senate, entered the House Finance Committee in February and has languished there.
Without greater participation from the citizenry, SB 3 will receive the same treatment as SB 213. To date, the By2015:AMERICA movement does not possess ANY information as to WHY the House Finance Committee is refusing to schedule SB 3 for vote on the House Floor.
The By2015:AMERICAcannot stand by and allow the House Finance Committee to permit the death of SB 3. Rather than watch it happen, we are choosing to make a demand. A very simple, but clear, demand. We are demanding that the House Finance Committee schedule Senate Bill 3 for vote on the House Floor – THIS 2012 LEGISLATIVE SESSION.
On December 21, 2011 By2015:AMERICA movement staged its second street demonstration in support of SB 3. A video message placed on By2015:AMERICA Facebook page captured the spirit of that demonstration. After all, Dr. West is correct. The average citizen must summon the courage to stand up and be the “change” needed in our communities. It will not come from others. It must come from ourselves.