*Well fed children fight less/MA hunger rising despite boom

Tom Boland (wgcp@earthlink.net)
Sat, 21 Nov 1998 13:17:59 -0400


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"[C]ompared to other kids of the same socioeconomic background, hungry kids
were twice as likely to repeat a grade. And 21 percent of hungry children
were classified as "fighting often," compared to just 3 percent of those
who got enough to eat."  --  from article below

http://www.bostonphoenix.com/archive/features/98/11/19/EDITORIAL.html
FWD  The Boston Phoenix: Editorial -   November 19 - 26, 1998

FEED THE CHILDREN

Despite the economic boom,
hunger in Massachusetts is on the rise

In America, hunger is quiet. It is a dullness of the eyes, a lethargy, a
vague sense of possibilities forgone. It does not announce itself with
distended bellies or wails for help. It is easy to miss, and even easier to
ignore.

Yet it surrounds us. Here in Massachusetts, hunger is actually on the rise
in the midst of one of the longest economic booms of the century. According
to a report released this week by Project Bread and Tufts University,
nearly two-thirds of Massachusetts emergency food providers have seen more
demand for their services. And it is a problem that runs deep: half of the
providers report seeing more families with children apply for help. A study
compiled by the US Department of Agriculture in 1997 found that 1 in 11
state residents "live in households that are unable to provide food that is
nutritionally adequate for good health."

Behind these statistics are human lives. "When I'm hungry I feel like I'm
dying. I eat ice because it fills me up with water," says one 12-year-old.
"When I don't eat, in school I get sleepy and bored." Hunger can be
especially devastating for children. Lack of nutrition doesn't just retard
physical development; it holds back mental and emotional development as
well. For children who already face the barriers of being poor, the trouble
can be overwhelming. A 1998 study of Pittsburgh schoolchildren found that,
compared to other kids of the same socioeconomic background, hungry kids
were twice as likely to repeat a grade. And 21 percent of hungry children
were classified as "fighting often," compared to just 3 percent of those
who got enough to eat.

In the past, hunger has been a cyclical problem, worsening when the economy
turns sour. That makes the current rise in hunger -- and homelessness --
all the more disturbing.

But, sadly, it is not surprising. The Massachusetts poverty rate, bucking
the national trend, actually rose in 1997 to 12.2 percent, from 10.1
percent in 1996. This is the ugly side of the Weld-Cellucci legacy. The
question now is whether Cellucci -- whose history suggests that he is more
comfortable as caretaker than leader -- will have the courage to change.
The scourge of hunger is fueled by powerful economic forces that the nation
-- not to mention Cellucci's Republican Party -- has utterly failed to
confront.

The solutions need not be divisive. This week's hunger report was chaired
by Representative Joe Kennedy, a Democrat, and Suffolk County DA Ralph
Martin, a Republican. The city of Springfield has instituted a very
successful free school-breakfast program that is open to all students,
removing the stigma of participation and making a dramatic difference in
the classroom. And the Cellucci administration has pledged $5 million to
improve school and community-center kitchen facilities around the state --
not enough, but a step in the right direction.

At bottom, though, the hunger is not a political problem; it is a moral
outrage. What does it say of our priorities that we have chosen to build a
society in which we allow children to starve? Parents describe the
heart-wrenching moments when they struggle to explain to a child why she
cannot have another bowl of cereal.

Consider what one 11-year-old told Project Bread: "I usually go home
because I don't feel good. I try to throw up, but I don't because I don't
have anything in my stomach to come out. . . . My mom comes to pick me up
and I just go home."

Now what?

For information on how to help, contact Project Bread at (617) 723-5000

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"[C]ompared to other kids of the same socioeconomic background, hungry
kids were twice as likely to repeat a grade. And 21 percent of hungry
children were classified as "fighting often," compared to just 3
percent of those who got enough to eat."  --  from article below


http://www.bostonphoenix.com/archive/features/98/11/19/EDITORIAL.html

FWD  The Boston Phoenix: Editorial -   November 19 - 26, 1998 


<paraindent><param>right,left</param>FEED THE CHILDREN


Despite the economic boom,

hunger in Massachusetts is on the rise

</paraindent>

In America, hunger is quiet. It is a dullness of the eyes, a lethargy,
a vague sense of possibilities forgone. It does not announce itself
with distended bellies or wails for help. It is easy to miss, and even
easier to ignore.


Yet it surrounds us. Here in Massachusetts, hunger is actually on the
rise in the midst of one of the longest economic booms of the century.
According to a report released this week by Project Bread and Tufts
University, nearly two-thirds of Massachusetts emergency food providers
have seen more demand for their services. And it is a problem that runs
deep: half of the providers report seeing more families with children
apply for help. A study compiled by the US Department of Agriculture in
1997 found that 1 in 11 state residents "live in households that are
unable to provide food that is nutritionally adequate for good
health."


Behind these statistics are human lives. "When I'm hungry I feel like
I'm dying. I eat ice because it fills me up with water," says one
12-year-old. "When I don't eat, in school I get sleepy and bored."
Hunger can be especially devastating for children. Lack of nutrition
doesn't just retard physical development; it holds back mental and
emotional development as well. For children who already face the
barriers of being poor, the trouble can be overwhelming. A 1998 study
of Pittsburgh schoolchildren found that, compared to other kids of the
same socioeconomic background, hungry kids were twice as likely to
repeat a grade. And 21 percent of hungry children were classified as
"fighting often," compared to just 3 percent of those who got enough to
eat.


In the past, hunger has been a cyclical problem, worsening when the
economy turns sour. That makes the current rise in hunger -- and
homelessness -- all the more disturbing.


But, sadly, it is not surprising. The Massachusetts poverty rate,
bucking the national trend, actually rose in 1997 to 12.2 percent, from
10.1 percent in 1996. This is the ugly side of the Weld-Cellucci
legacy. The question now is whether Cellucci -- whose history suggests
that he is more comfortable as caretaker than leader -- will have the
courage to change. The scourge of hunger is fueled by powerful economic
forces that the nation -- not to mention Cellucci's Republican Party --
has utterly failed to confront.


The solutions need not be divisive. This week's hunger report was
chaired by Representative Joe Kennedy, a Democrat, and Suffolk County
DA Ralph Martin, a Republican. The city of Springfield has instituted a
very successful free school-breakfast program that is open to all
students, removing the stigma of participation and making a dramatic
difference in the classroom. And the Cellucci administration has
pledged $5 million to improve school and community-center kitchen
facilities around the state -- not enough, but a step in the right
direction.


At bottom, though, the hunger is not a political problem; it is a moral
outrage. What does it say of our priorities that we have chosen to
build a society in which we allow children to starve? Parents describe
the heart-wrenching moments when they struggle to explain to a child
why she cannot have another bowl of cereal.


Consider what one 11-year-old told Project Bread: "I usually go home
because I don't feel good. I try to throw up, but I don't because I
don't have anything in my stomach to come out. . . . My mom comes to
pick me up and I just go home."


Now what?


For information on how to help, contact Project Bread at (617)
723-5000


END FORWARD

HOMELESS PEOPLE'S NETWORK  <<http://aspin.asu.edu/hpn/>  Home Page

ARCHIVES  <<http://aspin.asu.edu/hpn/archives.html>  read posts to HPN

TO JOIN  <<http://aspin.asu.edu/hpn/join.html> or email Tom <<wgcp@earthlink.net>

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