The Juneau Hunger Strike
On February 7, 2012 the Lead Coordinator of the By2015:AMERICA Movement will travel to Juneau – Alaska’s political capital. His purpose is to address the irrational political gridlock occurring in the 2012 State Legislature. Senate Bill 3, a School Meals Bill, is being held hostage in exchange for oil company tax breaks.
Lead Coordinator, Kokayi Nosakhere, intends to assist the lawmakers in “regaining their humanity,” as he thundered at a January 3 press conference. His tool of choice is a hunger strike. Nosakhere is pledging not to eat any food until Senate Bill 3 is scheduled for an up or down vote on the House Floor.
Anchorage-based Channel 11 news anchor Grace Jang remarked that a hunger strike appears drastic. Corey Allen explained that her comment comes without the background knowledge of nearly three years of constant activism. On April 22, 2010 The Anchorage Press published a cover article on Nosakhere’s bold vision, capturing the Lead Coordinator’s outrage over Senate Bill 213’s (the first School Meals Bill) death in the House Finance Committee.
On the surface, the political resistance to the School Meals Bill doesn’t make sense. As a society, we value children enough to have anti-child labor laws and compulsory education. It goes against our shared values for lawmakers NOT to support anything which significantly benefits children.
The Seward Phonenix Log columnist named Elstun Lauesen discovered the source of this moral irrationality, i.e. $8.2 billion in tax breaks for oil companies. It is called House Bill 110 and it is currently being fought by Senate Bill Wielechowski. Wielechowski is the sponsor for the School Meals Bill. Since he will not allow oil companies to receive billions in tax breaks without accountability, the House Finance Committee is “resolved” not to schedule any Bills, especially those sponsored by Wielechowski.
The influence of oil companies in Alaskan politics is so great, many within activist circles felt a visceral wave of fear. They fear that one man’s devotion to our commonly shared value will not speak to the humanity of elected officials. The question was raised, in the face of this new information, will the Lead Coordinator choose to call the hunger strike off? Nosakhere provided this answer, “I am committed to the hunger strike. This is the only way to wake the citizens of Alaska up.”
On January 9, 2012, Anchorage-resident John Aronno attempted to assuage the fears of Alaskan activists. On the By2015:AMERICA blog he eloquently “re-framed” those who occupy the State Legislature as statesmen, not mere politicians. He argued that they can rise to the challenge presented by a hunger strike and do the right thing.
Such a vision sustains the political arm of the By2015:AMERICA Movement. In the First World a new organization is not necessary. We already have an established, complex network of food banks and pantries. We have productive farms and a thriving commercial food network. We have public schools, which can serve as a national distribution system. Lastly, we have brave churches and community centers dedicated towards serving the population. Nothing physical is needed.
What is needed is the Collective WILL to act on behalf of our children. The American People – the rank and file – must activate the System currently in place. Participation in WIC, Food Stamps, Summer Foods and a host of other governmental programs must increase. Children need to be brought to school on time so they can access School Breakfast. Evening feeding programs, like Children’s Meal Mission, need to become permanent fixtures.
Lastly, we need NEW, bold leadership which does not view the feeding of our children as an obstacle towards self-reliance. And, we must act now! Because the very genius of America is at stake.
More than a political act is occurring in Juneau, Alaska starting on February 7, 2012. Not just the conscious of 60 elected officials is being challenged. The political will of an entire nation is. It is a collective moral failing that 19.5 million children are hungry in America.
We ask that you join this Movement by doing the following:
1) Take a picture with a cardboard sign which reads: END CHILD HUNGER. Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org. We will add it to our on-line collection. The ECH sign campaign is how we inspire citizens that solutions do exist.
2) Conduct a peanut butter drive. A plan, which works, exists on the By2015:AMERICA blog. Use it. And, yes, the only limit is our imagination. We can organize food drives that bring in more than peanut butter.
3) Make a donation of your time, talent or money to an activity within your community which serves the anti-hunger community.
We can and will address child hunger in the United States by 2015.
Note: If you would like to join the Lead Coordinator in his hunger strike please email the Movement at email@example.com. Two alternative options to the “Absolute Fast” the Lead Coordinator is submitting to are offered. 1) A weekly Sunday Fast, 24 hours – water only. Start date: 2/12/2012. 2) One Meal a Day, soup and bread. Water only. Documentation is necessary for credit within the Movement.