[OP-ED]: Trump Backhands Child Hunger In Philadelphia
Thousands of children in Philadelphia went to bed with wrenching pains from hunger on the same night that President Donald Trump ordered a missile strike on an airbase in Syria shortly before he dined on a gourmet meal at his opulent, sea-side estate in West Palm Beach, Florida.
The same President Trump who cited the suffering of children in Syria as justification for raining 59 sophisticated missiles (costing nearly $90-million) onto that airbase is the same leader who recently proposed a federal budget that guts funding from programs that provide meals for low-income children at school. The daily food from those federally funded programs is too often the only substantial meal those children receive.
Statistics on hunger in Philadelphia and surrounding region are staggering. Over 20 percent of Philadelphians are ‘food insecure’—the official phrase for hunger. Those hungry Philadelphians include 14 percent of whites, 18 percent of blacks and 25 percent of Latinos.
“People don’t understand how bad hunger is in Philadelphia,” Stefanie Arck-Baynes said.
Arck-Baynes is the deputy director of communications for Philabundance, the local organization that provides food to 90,000 people weekly, 30 percent of whom are children. Arck-Baynes said 750,000 people “face hunger” annually in the nine county region served by Philabundance (five counties in Pa and four in NJ).
Children suffering hunger in the richest nation on earth is inexcusable…arguably insulting the pledge in the Preamble of the U.S. Constitution to “promote the general welfare.” Yet, such suffering persists because too many of America’s leaders in elected, corporate, civic and religious sectors don’t care about the structural poverty that spawns hunger.
“Hunger and poverty go hand-in-hand and Philadelphia is consistently ranked as the poorest large city in America,” Laura Wall, executive director of Philadelphia’s Coalition Against Hunger, said.
“The consequences of food insecurity on children are significant,” Wall emphasized. “As compared to their peers who are not food insecure, young children in food-insecure households are more likely to be in poor health; to be hospitalized; be at risk for developmental delays’ and have iron-deficiency anemia.”
Cruise missiles, like those fired into Syria recently, carry a price tag of nearly $1.5-million each, a cost that Philabundance’s Arck-Baynes said could provide three million meals. She said a $1 donation to Philabundance provides two meals for someone in need of food.
Arck-Baynes said since “tons of children” in Philadelphia already go to bed hungry, if the Trump Administration succeeds in eliminating funding for school feeding programs, “we will have a huge problem.”
Another problem arising from Trump policies involves immigrants. Many are now “afraid to come to our food distribution centers because they fear they will be caught and deported,” Arck-Baynes said.
Debate about U.S. foreign policy priorities in places like Syria is legitimate. However, there should be no debate about the appropriateness of children in America suffering the pains of hunger comparable to children in Third World countries.
With food insecurity rampant across America increased military spending for ‘national security’ is an abomination.