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The Crisis of Summer Foods in America

May 21, 2012

Participate in the Summer Foods 2012

Peanut Butter Drive: May 28 – June 8, 2012 –

For more details contact the Lead Coordinator

18 million American children face hunger this summer

The Genius of America hangs in the balance.  Child hunger in the United States is at such an alarming level that the heavyweights of public policy are composing one opinion piece after another to bring attention upon it.

Recently, on Friday, May 18, 2012, Marian Wright Edelman, President of The Children’s Defense Fund, published with Huffington Post.  As usual, the problem lies not in the acknowledgement that a crisis is going on, but in the lack of social and political will to address the crisis.

Edelman writes, “As FRAC president Jim Weill explains, one of the biggest barriers is that although many kinds of programs are eligible for funding there simply aren’t enough programs available to serve all the children who need them.

“FRAC points out that the continuing fallout from the Great Recession has only made this worse as budget cuts have led many communities to slash funding for summer schools and summer youth programs making opportunities for providing summer meals even more limited.

Some of the programs that do exist don’t run for the whole summer, and there also aren’t enough eligible programs providing robust activities and services in addition to meals that draw families in. Adding programs and services and keeping sites open longer could both reduce childhood hunger and help many communities create desperately-needed jobs — a win-win. This should be a priority in communities across the country.” [emphasis mine]

An Unacceptable number. 20.6 million.  That number just doesn’t make sense. The more I attempt to understand it the less real it becomes. Everything within me desires to disbelieve that number.

One out of four, or 20.6 million children participated in the free/reduced school lunch program. This means they are living in households operating below, at or slightly above (125%) the poverty line.  Within the continental United States the poverty line is $10,890 or $907.50 per month. That’s $5.67 per hour, which is way below the federal minimum wage of $7.25. (A difference of $1.58 per hour.)

In Alaska the poverty line is $13,600.

Now, federal minimum wage generates $1,160 monthly. After taxes, take home ranges close to $950.

This covers rent.  Barely.

For example, in Chicago’s West Garfield Park, a 2 bedroom apartment is currently being advertised for $850 per month. That leaves $100 for food, clothing and transportation. Good thing the average income in West Garfield Park is $24,171 or $2,014.25 monthly. That’s 12.15 per hour.

One glitch. 12.5 million citizens are unemployed. And this is the number of citizens that the government can track. This does not count the number of persons who gave up 2 or 3 years ago. The Great Recession has existed since 2007.

The effect of five years  of high unemployment is that 46.3 million citizens are using food stamps.

The average monthly allotment is $133.85 nation-wide. This doesn’t cover the cost of nutritious food in urban areas. (See Michelle Obama’s work over the past 3-4 years to highlight urban food deserts.)  The result is the consumption of low-cost, filler-foods peddled by fast food franchises. This leads to obesity.

Ironically, American children are fat, yet malnourished.  The complexity of social problems awaiting America from malnourishment of an entire generation is keeping the anti-hunger network afire.

On May 3, 2012 Kim Doyle Willie published a heart-wrenching article article warning readers about child hunger during summer vacation. She bemoaned the fact that the major anti-hunger organizations project being able to ensure 3.2 million children eat one meal a day.

That leaves 18 million more children to feed.

In Anchorage, Alaska where 13,910 children will face hunger, the following opportunities exist to relieve their condition.

Inside the Muldoon area children ages 18 and younger. Meals are provided weekdays on a first come, first served basis. Call to verify operation as most sites will not operate for more than one month at a time.

Breakfast –
Begich Middle School – (7:30 – 8:30 am)  7440 Creedkside Center Drive, 742-0500

Muldoon Elementary School – (8:30 – 9:30 am)  525 Cherry Street, 742-1465

Lunch –
Begich Middle School – (12:15 – 1:15 pm)  7440 Creedkside Center Drive, 742-0500

Muldoon Elementary School (Noon – 1:00 pm)  525 Cherry Street, 742-1465

BGC: Northeast Community Center – (Noon – 1:00 pm) 1251 Muldoon Rod, 333-2582

Inside the East Anchorage Area children 18 and younger.

Breakfast –
East High School – (7:30 – 8:30 am) 4025 E. Northern Lights Blvd., 742-2416

Tyson Elementary School (8:15 – 9:15 am) 2801 Richmond Avenue, 742-8024

Lunch –
East High School – 11 am – Noon 4025 E. Northern Lights Blvd., 742-2416

Tyson Elementary School (Noon – 1:00 pm) 2801 Richmond Avenue, 742-8024

Grandview Baptist Church (Noon – 1:00 pm) 1300 Columbine Street, 276,6027

Mountain View Lions Park (1:00 pm – 2:00 pm) 501 N. Pine Street, 348-5140

For more information on ASD-sponsored sites visit their website.

Kokayi Nosakhere, Lead Coordinator of the By2015:AMERICA Movement

 

Kokayi Nosakhere is the Lead Coordinator of the By2015:AMERICA movement. Based in Anchorage, Alaska, the anti-hunger activist endured a 28 day action called The Juneau Hunger Strike to highlight the issue of child hunger during the 27th Alaskan Legislature. He is available to assist other activists around the country in addressing child hunger in their locale. To contact the Lead Coordinator, please call 907-884-4710 or email him at by2015america@gmail.com.

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