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Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2016

Can we meet needs of nation's hungry?

Saturday, September 8, 2012

I listened to a report this week about hunger in America. The report indicated that literally millions of people - the emphasis being on children - go to bed hungry in this country every day.

Now I have no way of disputing this report. But as with many "reports," I hesitate to take it as gospel.

If there is indeed a problem with hunger in this country, then we should abandon whatever food programs are available and completely retool our thought process.

Food stamp usage hoovers around 48 million Americans. With a population a tad over 300 million, that means one in six families relies on the taxpayers to provide for all or to supplement their food availability.

That in itself is a major problem.

So why are there so many people unable - or unwilling - to provide for their own basic need for food?

Shouldn't we ask that question at the same time we tailor programs to provide for their unmet need?

Well, of course, we should ask that question. Until you know the answer, we'll just continue to throw money at the problem with no possibility that a full solution will be found.

With millions of food bank programs and church-based programs and simply volunteer programs to feed our population, why is there still hunger?

Schools provide breakfasts and lunches. And now there is a proposal to provide "weekend" take-home food programs for students.

OK, 48 million on food stamps, millions upon millions in food bank donations, an equal amount of church food programs and others, and we still have hunger?

What am I missing?

Now I honestly have never known hunger. Count me among the blessed. And as a formal disclaimer, I have also worked in programs providing thousands upon thousands of dollars in supplemental food for families in our area.

So though I do not know the answer to why people could possibly be hungry, I still have spent countless hours working to feed others.

And it goes without saying that I have not been alone in this effort to help others.

But I return to the question of why - with this massive array of free food programs - some still profess to have hunger issues.

Some are perhaps too proud to ask for a handout. I can accept that. But I also suspect - and I can certainly back this up - that far too many lack the responsibility to provide for their own food needs.

When you stand in line at a store - as I have on countless occasions - and watch those in need buy lottery tickets instead of food for their children, a part of the answer becomes crystal clear.

Perhaps these people are not the majority. Perhaps they are the sad exceptions in life.

But I think not.

Feeding our population takes effort. But it also takes commitment on the part of the recipient to make every effort to do whatever possible to assist in providing for themselves.

We most certainly have problems in this great country. Many of these problems are simply beyond our control. But some of these problems are self-inflicted.

It's those who make the poor choices who spoil the water for the truly needy.

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Michael Jensen
Michael Jensen