Protecting Children from Food Insecurity

By: Daniel Nardini

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Commentary I am thoroughly outraged, and I am sure all of my readers will be too. An African America lady named Angela Prattis, of Chester Township, a poor town near Philadelphia, has been for two months providing free food to poor children in her community during the last two months while school is out. The food was donated by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Philadelphia for these children. Well, instead of commending Prattis for her work, the Chester Township council decided to penalize her. They have threatened to levy $600 a day for every time she gave away food to poor and needy children for the two months. Why? Because she lives in a “residential area,” and thus is not allowed to even give food away. As Prattis has pointed out, there are houses on her block alone where the roofs are collapsing and houses are literally falling apart wall by wall. Yet the Chester Township, in its extremely cold-hearted attitude, will not even so much as allow a lady with a heart of gold to feed the kids in her own neighborhood?

Why, I ask, cannot the township do what this little lady is doing and feed the kids in her community? Why cannot the state and federal governments help to feed these kids when the parents of Chester Township earn on average only U.S. $19,000 a month? There can be no question that Chester Township for the most part is what is being called a “food insecure zone.” This term is not my creation but the creation of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The term “food insecurity” describes where people, and especially children, do not get enough nourishing foods or enough food at all from day to day. In this bad economy this problem has grown to dangerous proportions. Here are some disturbing facts. Some 48 million Americans do not get enough food to eat. Almost twice as many Latinos, and especially Latino children, are more at risk for food insecurity as are non-Hispanic whites. The long-term effects from food insecurity are very clear; more health problems, slower learning abilities (which can affect children at school), and a shorter life span. Food insecurity is especially dangerous for children as food is especially critical for their physical development.

You would think that in a country as large, as rich in resources and highly developed as the United States, that there would not be a food insecurity problem. But there is, and it is on a growing scale. What truly makes me burn is that the state and federal governments are just not doing enough about it (or nothing at all), and that they are actually stopping golden-hearted citizens like Angela Prattis from handing out food to protect children in their own community. Sadly, this is not the only case of officials literally taking the food out of peoples’ mouths. In March of this year, New York’s Mayor Michael Bloomberg banned all food donations to the homeless because the food “did not meet the nutritional standards” he set. If someone is literally dying of hunger, will nutritional value matter? The year before, the City of Philadelphia passed a series of laws that prevented people from organizations like Food Not Bombs from giving food to people because of “food safety issues.” In other words, just giving a homeless person a cup of coffee or a packed sandwich is not acceptable because those distributing the food did not get get the correct (and very expensive) permits, did not take courses in how to prepare and serve food, and did not fill out the right paper forms. Does this insane logic also extend to the children who are homeless with their families and who are just as hungry as the adults? Whether they have a home or not, children should at least have a right to eat and be free from food insecurity. But I have to question those politicians who are well fed and who do not have to worry about food insecurity (or much of anything else) why, as in the case of Angela Prattis, do they practice such cruelty?

Comments are closed.