The Assault on School Children Continues—Through Food

Conservative politicians are unabashedly assaulting Black children.

Lately, that assault has taken the form of attacking Black history. The latest iteration comes from Republican governors preventing hungry children from getting fed. Republican governors in 15 states are rejecting a new federally funded program to give food assistance to hungry children during the summer months, denying benefits to 8 million children nationwide.

Their excuses run the gambit: from the idiotic to the pathologically bigoted. Some argue that they haven’t seen the full plans. Others say that they don’t want to contribute to childhood obesity. Lastly, some say they don’t want to perpetuate dependency on the government.

This program is for children who may experience hunger… that’s the real epidemic. More than 34 million people, including 9 million children, in the United States are food insecure, according to the U. S. Department of Agriculture, meaning they lack consistent access to enough food for every family member to be healthy.

According to researchers, it matters because children in such households are more likely to struggle academically and repeat grade levels, among other challenges. Thus, the program is an investment into children—not welfare like Nebraska Gov. Jim Pillen assumes—providing families with incomes below the poverty level who already get school lunches for a reduced price or free with $120 per child to buy food at grocery stores, farmers markets or other approved retailers.

Of the 15 states declining the federal dollars to help feed hungry children, seven of the states make up the original Confederate States of America: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, and Texas. Of these:

Again, conservative politicians are unabashedly assaulting Black children.

Various organizations will step in to provide opportunities for children to be fed. Houses of worship will use their ministries and resources to provide food and other items to those in need. Non-governmental organizations, including Freedom Schools, will provide summer programming with enrichment activities and breakfast and lunch. We should take heed of the leadership of organizations like the Black Panther Party that demonstrated that justice was intersectional.

As a former Afterschool and Summer Program director, I can attest to the importance of these programs for children in the summer. However, these programs don’t give families the funds to purchase food for their homes. Americans need help purchasing food, especially with the high cost of groceries. It’s true in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

Americans pay taxes, and their tax dollars should work for them. Congress agreed and passed this food assistance program. Who are these “leaders” to deny people in need the opportunity for relief through nutritious food and money for families to purchase more food for their homes?

We’ve got to be honest with each other. Conservative politicians don’t care for people beyond their racist ideals and philosophies. Many believe that Black people, particularly the poor among them, are lazy, uninterested in working, and desire to depend on the government.

It’s similar to the same racist thinking during the Jim Crow era and the period of chattel enslavement.

However, this is the play by conservatives; the federal government must be more creative in getting these resources where they need to be. For example, instead of sending money directly to the states, maybe these dollars should be sent to non-governmental agencies and organizations specifically to partner with school districts to get the resources in the hands of children and families.

Maybe there is another way to do it. It doesn’t matter how; it just needs to happen.

Governor Jim Pillen of Nebraska, saying he doesn’t believe in welfare, shared his rationale: “Handing out money is not enough to meet kids’ needs. They need much more.” Forty dollars a month for groceries, capped at $120 for three months, is not a lot of money. But go tell that to a parent struggling to make ends meet.

The folks are out of touch. Hopefully, voters touch them at the ballot box.


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