[Hpn] MITCHELL, S.D. - Speakers link full tummies to sound minds - Aberdeen News - November 06, 2003

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Fri, 7 Nov 2003 01:04:25 -0500


Speakers link full tummies to sound minds

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By AP WAYNE ORTMAN - Aberdeen News  - November 06, 2003

MITCHELL, S.D. - The face of poverty and hunger in America is
changing, a panelist said Thursday at a conference that examined
how best to feed the world's hungry children.

America's Second Harvest, which oversees 215 food banks around
the country, has noted a 9 percent increase in requests for
emergency food, said Douglas O'Brien, its vice president for
public policy and research.

And it no longer is just homeless men who have no children and
no job who are standing in line for food, O'Brien said.

"Now it's single moms with children who are standing in the soup
kitchen line. The face of hunger increasingly is that of an
employed person.

Forty percent of the people we serve have a
working adult at home," O'Brien said at The Hungry Child
conference.

Food banks also are seeing more demand in rural and suburban
areas and not just the big city, he said at the second
conference of the George and Eleanor McGovern Center for Public
Service at Dakota Wesleyan University.

McGovern, a former U.S. Sen. from South Dakota, is a longtime
proponent of developing programs to feed the hungry worldwide,
and especially children.

McGovern and other speakers said the lack of nutritious meals
for pregnant women and infants can reduce a child's mental and
physical development.

The world is losing untold potential when children don't get
proper nourishment or go to school, said James Morris, executive
director of the World Food Programme, a United Nations arm that
oversees food distribution to 110 million people in the world.

The $10 billion to $15 billion it would take to feed the world's
hungry is a large expense, but in the context of other spending
is worthwhile, Morris said.

"An investment of feeding children has leverage like nothing
else we could do," he said.

Morris agreed with McGovern's assertion that providing school
lunches is a way to draw children to school in underdeveloped
countries.

"Children who go to school aspire to much greater things,"
Morris said.

O'Brien said America's Second Harvest will distribute food to 23
million low-income people in America, including 9 million
children. Having enough to eat as a child improves mental and
learning abilities and can help them improve their life, he
said.

"We run the risk of creating a class who because they are poor
at the wrong time of their life will be poor their entire life,"
O'Brien said.

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