Friday, December 13, 2013

Let Them Eat Cake!

Following up on my previous post, which (while unfocused) dealt generally with hunger...

I recently came across a scrap of Associated Press wire copy from long ago – from a previous life. It's been tucked in a book all these years, a little booby trap waiting for me to trip the wire.

It has this quote: "I'm sure there are many things the President knows that I don't know, but nutrition does not happen to be one of them."

There's no date on the wire copy, but the president referred to is Ronald Reagan. So the AP copy dates to somewhere between 1980 (it can't be that old) and 1988 (more likely).

"With the steady hacking away at food programs," the speaker goes on, "we are seeing hunger re-appear in the United States, and I'm very worried that some of the [gains] we have seen are going to be lost."

That was Dr Jean Mayer, a nutrition specialist and then-President of Tufts University, "best known for his research on the physiological bases of hunger," according to Wikipedia.

Dr. Mayer took Reagan to task after Reagan said reports about a rise in malnutrition in the United States were exaggerated. Ruthless Ron further suggested a need for deep cuts in federal funding of food programs.

Now it's twenty-something years later. Reagan is dead. Mayer is dead. But, surprise! Hunger is still with us.

It troubles me that the issue gets annual lip service around the holidays, and then is forgotten by most until next year. We've taken a baby step with affordable health care – and I do mean a baby step; I want money taken from the military and plowed into health care – but we haven't done squat about hunger. Not domestically or internationally.

In a nation that loves to boast it is the greatest in the world, and in a world capable of sustaining itself if politics didn't get in the way, allowing hunger to exist is a sin. Maybe even a crime against humanity.

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