Providing for the basic needs of the next generation is something that most people can get behind. However, there are people in our society who feel that taking care of others, including children, is not their responsibility and have different priorities. Some don’t have kids or feel that hungry kids are not their problem and the parents should have thought about how they were going to feed them before had them.
They are wrong because childhood hunger has an indirect effect on us all. Children are some of our most vulnerable citizens and need our support. No child can choose their parents; some parents are not able, for a laundry list of reasons, to provide enough food for their children.
Alaska has a high cost of living and many of the children in need of meals have parents who work, they just don’t make enough to always make ends meet. Children who are hungry and living in poverty face many daily challenges and are at higher risk of having more problems. At school they have trouble focusing and can exhibit behavioral problems. Hunger can affect long-term health, academic achievement, and economic prosperity. These factors can lead to a less competitive American workforce and higher healthcare costs.
Childhood hunger affects us all and has a negative impact on the individual child’s ability to thrive and develop their full potential. If that is not enough, it also strains resources in schools and the healthcare system. Providing food for children is not only moral and ethical, it can also help reduce some of the other problems that come along with being a child in poverty in our country.
Others will argue that it wouldn’t work to use State funds to expand the Nutritional Alaskan Food in Schools grant program. The State already pays enough money to the schools. Alaska has other things to pay for like building the gas pipeline, the bridge to the Knik Arm, improving roads, building more schools, or paying for workers’ pension plans. Why would we direct State funds to feed under privileged children? The answer is we can’t afford not to. Expanding the grant program could potentially expand food production and the economy. We can invest in Alaska’s future in two ways: the future leaders, workers and citizens of our state as well as increasing production and infrastructure of our food supply.
Expanding the grant program to include organizations like the Children’s Lunchbox could actually save the State money. They are a program of Bean’s Café who is a respected, trusted, long-term, Alaskan charity. They have access to volunteers, a plan to meet the needs, and are already in the community connecting with the people who need our help. More resources in the form of State funds would help them expand the Children’s Lunch Box into more schools and for more children.
Childhood hunger affects us all. We have a responsibility to do what we can to make sure that every child has a chance to make something of their life no matter what their circumstance.