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06.15.2009 9:00 pm

Oblivious to the needs of Missouri’s hungry children

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State Rep. Cynthia Davis offers a tip to hungry families.

State Rep. Cynthia Davis offers a tip to hungry families.

State Rep. Cynthia Davis, R-O’Fallon, is staking out a strong position on child hunger: She’s for it.
“Hunger can be a positive motivator,” she notes in the latest edition of her newsletter.
More precisely, Ms. Davis is against summer feeding programs for poor kids. They are an excuse “to create an expansion of a government program,” she says.
Ms. Davis chairs the House Special Standing Committee on Children and Families. In that position, she might be expected to have insight into child hunger in our state.
She might know, for instance, that about one in five Missouri children lives with hunger. That ties us with Louisiana for the nation’s seventh-highest rate, according to a report released last month by the hunger-relief charity Feeding America.
Or that the recession has pushed the number of poor Missouri kids who qualify for free or reduced-price school lunches by 8.3 percent this year, well above the national average.
Apparently not.
”While I have not seen this as a problem in my district, it is entirely possible that the (summer feeding) program is designed to address problems that exist in other parts of Missouri,” Ms. Davis says in her newsletter.
“The right way to solve this is with more education. If parents … don’t know how to serve nutritious meals, let’s help them learn to do that.”
In that spirit, she offers some helpful hints:
“Families may economize by choosing not to waste hard earned dollars on potato chips, ice cream or Twinkies.”
“Laid-off parents could adapt by preparing more home cooked meals rather than going out to eat.”
Tip: If you work for McDonald’s, they will feed you for free during your break.”

About 100,000 more people are unemployed in Missouri today than were jobless in 2007. Food pantries across the state are struggling to meet increased demand. The United Way of St. Louis and more than 100 area companies are participating in a food drive this week.
And the plain, tragic fact is some children have parents who aren’t particularly interested in caring for them. Ward Cleaver and Cliff Huxtable are off the television airways.
But Ms. Davis is skeptical about the need to feed poor children during the summer when schools are closed.
If — if — there really is one, she says, “churches and non-profits can do this at no cost to the taxpayer.”

Or maybe not.
“Most of our 18 (summer feeding program) sites are churches,” explains Rosemary Terranova, who oversees the program for St. Louis County.
“We’re trying to support churches that want to offer some kind of summer recreation program for kids,” she says. “They supply the staff, we supply the food.”
The program “has been a real blessing to us,” says Caroline Crenshaw of Bethesda Temple in Normandy, where 40 children attended day care last week while their parents worked.
The summer feeding program’s cost is funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which pays about $1.81 for each breakfast served and $3.18 for each lunch.
Last year, 3.7 million meals were served by the summer feeding program at a total cost of less than $9.5 million. That’s a pretty good use of federal money.
In the same generous spirit as Ms. Davis, we’d like to offer a suggestion.
Tip: When you chair a state special committee on children and families, you probably ought to learn something about the needs of children and families.

58 comments

The Post didn’t publish the entire section of Rep. Davis’ newsletter, so it’s not possible to determine her exact motives, but one aspect of childhood hunger in America is kind of odd: In Ameriuca today, a recognized symptom of poverty is childhood obesity. It would seem to be a double tragedy if poor children are not only disadvantaged economically, but are also destined for a life of health problems caused by a poor diet.
Is it enough to simply hand out food? For families who are temporarily down on their luck due to the economy, the answer is probably yes. For the chronically disadvantaged, a combination of economic opportunity and education is the long-term solution. Maybe Ms Davis has unwittingly provided a public service if her newletter stirs a discussion that goes beyond the present economic crisis.

— Merc Man
7:49 am June 16th, 2009

Davis apparently knows a heck of lot more about the needs of children than the limousine liberals on the PD editorial board.

— Go_Fish
8:29 am June 16th, 2009

Living in a community where a large proportion of grocery transactions are paid for with food stamps, I have observed that some use this supplement wisely, while others do not. I have met some people who would starve without food stamps, and others who sell them for cigarette money and eat from food pantries. I know one food stamp mom who suffers from obesity, high blood pressure, and diabetes - and who has been hospitalized for these ailments, paid for by Medicaid, three times in the past eight months. I know another food stamp mom who uses her benefits to purchase appropriate food for her family, all of whom are quite healthy, and for whose benefits I am happy to pay.

As for the summer food program, I’ll agree that it seems like an idiotic thing to attack. Her idea that the churches are going to do it could only come from a comfortable, suburban person: In fact, while churches in O’Fallon are building new facilities, churches in areas which actually serve free lunches struggle to keep the lights on. Many of these urban churches already provide some sort of charity, but feeding the neighborhood is beyond their means. And most of the suburban people I know think that if they give a gift to Angel Tree, or perhaps work a shift at Larry Rice’s Thanksgiving dinner, they’ve done their part.

But if churches aren’t providing free lunches over the summer, why aren’t parents? If you are receiving food stamps, you ought to be purchasing food for your family - including lunches. I’ve read the perennial laments about the inadequacy of the food stamp allotment, but as I’ve said before, it’s almost as much as my family spends on groceries. And if you run a little short, maybe you should start shopping at Aldi like we do.

I have observed one such program first hand, about five years ago, at a St. Louis city recreation program. The lunches they were providing were barely better than Lunchables. If that’s what we’re getting for $3.18, we’re getting ripped off.

— Nick Kasoff
9:23 am June 16th, 2009

I agree with Go_Fish, Rep. Davis clearly understands the issue of hunger better than the Post Editorial Board. As a parent, my first responsibility is to care for my children. Of course there are situations where, like my grandmother had when she became a young widow with children, charities needs to step in to help in dire circumstances until people can get back on their feet. But why are there so many parents that I know with with i-pods, flat screen tv’s and dvd players, using food stamps and government programs at school to feed their children breakfast and lunch? It’s human nature to take what is offered for free. But limousine liberals think they can raise our kids and take better care of them (through the government) than we can. Wrong. I guess it’s also human nature for some politicians to try to gain power by handing out freebies. Get out of the way and stop trying to run everything!! Parents can make mistakes, but when you take all the responsibilities away form being a parent, they will of course spend their money in other ways. If a mom can learn to use her i-pod, she can certainly learn to make a scrambled egg for breakfast, or to pack a sandwich for lunch. We really, really can!!!

— Mom of 4
10:03 am June 16th, 2009

How do you spell abuse? F O O D S T A M P P R O G R A M

— SoCoBoy
2:27 pm June 16th, 2009

…”And the plain, tragic fact is some children have parents who aren’t particularly interested in caring for them.”

So the taxpayers must care for them; even to the detriment of our own children and grandchildren and the nation’s solvency.

For that “tragic fact” you can thank Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society. With vigorous support from the PD, the liberals enabled and encouraged births to mothers who had no means to support or care for children. With AFDC it was actually a cottage industry for quite some time.

In the name of liberal “compassion” generations of unwanted children have suffered desperate lives, void of parental guidance and financial support. Their lives are dependent on big government and are often prematurely ended by street violence or drug abuse.

Hunger is simply another of many ruses the liberals use to grow government. Most people are too busy watching American Idol or the ballgame to recognize the scam being pulled by the PD Editorial Board and their leftist cronies.

Wake up folks. It is not about children. It is not about homeless indigents. It is not about poverty. The trillions of dollars in Great Society social engineering is about one thing, only. Government power to control the lives of everyone in accordance with the collectivist ideology of the Left. Self reliance is blasphemy to government worshipers. Dependence and obedience is the Holy Grail that empowers the leftist ego.

…”Tip: When you chair a state special committee on children and families, you probably ought to learn something about the needs of children and families.”…
Such arrogance, sanctimony, and sarcasm are simply a result of their own denial about their true motives. Otherwise facts, fat kids, and street crime would have them taking a closer look at the bloated government programs they devise.

Notice the “generous spirit” of the Editorial Board involves confiscating taxpayer dollars rather than donating their own dollars. Such generosity! I also don’t expect to run into any of the PD editors helping out at the food bank this weekend. They will be too busy writing stories to ridicule anyone who doesn’t subscribe to their collectivist, statist, doctrine.

— A#
3:10 pm June 16th, 2009

What an idiot. Yet another reason why Missouri is quickly going the way of West Virginia. Don’t even get me started on the bozos who elected this moron, or the typical “hardworking” StL Today commenters who apparently have enough free time to jump on every single story to rant about “leftists”.

— southsidered
4:46 pm June 16th, 2009

It’s a pity there aren’t more comments from folks who are appalled about this story. Oh wait, those would be the parents being attacked, the ones working at McDonalds and whose only break is spent gulping down a totally non-nutritious yet *free* meal. If they only knew how this elected official feels about this committee she’s on (whose goal is to ensure that children don’t go hungry during the summer when school is out). But sadly, they probably have no idea because they can’t afford a newspaper, or a computer, or internet, or even free time to go to the local public library to surf the net there because they’re working at places at McDonald’s and what free time they have, the library is closed. At least they’re getting a free meal during their breaks. Too bad this elected official wants their kids to go hungry (and get motivated thru their hunger). You’d think if hunger was such a wonderful motivator, third world countries would be fabuously wealthy from all the brilliant ideas their starving children would come up with.

— Melinda
1:10 pm June 18th, 2009

It is not potato chips and Twinkies that cause obesity, it is all the potatoes, pasta’s, rice, beans, process meats and other cheaper fatty foods that stretch a poor family’s budget that cause obesity because, healthier foods are not affordable.

Of course Cynthisa Davis knows how to purchase and eat healthy foods, she just has never attempted to do it on a poor family’s food budget. People like this lady just irritates me to no end, but that is my short coming.

However I do want to mention that Sam’s Wholesale Food Club now accepts food stamps. Sam’s carry affordable large bags of frozen green beans, broccoli and large containers and bags of salad mixes at extremely affordable prices where a struggling family can now eat more healthy cheap.

I don’t know anything about possible any membership breaks but hopefully social services is sharing this information about Sam’s acceptance of food stamps because many of the bulk foods are perfect for large families and much, much cheaper than regular grocery stores. This is the best thing on earth that Sam’s could have done for struggling families. I am very happy that Sam’s are taking food stamps because now many struggling and poor families because they can now eat much healthier and afford it.

Also,

Save-A-Lot, the only place I purchase bags of baking potatoes, huge ones and cheap 10 lb bag 3.99.

Audi’s, go there to purchase whatever fruit they are featuring specials on i.e., apples, oranges 25 cents each or grapes 1.29 per carton. Bread is also very cheap there and they have a whole grain bread as good as any you will find in the Bread Company for cheaper than $1.00 per loaf and white bread I think is 69 cents. Milk is cheaper there also.

It is very difficult for many of our disadvantaged poorer families to take advantage of many of these things because of transportation and their geographical locations and these places not being geographically accessible and maybe churches can help families once a week, month etc… through some type of transportation assistance.

— D. Walker
1:19 pm June 18th, 2009

Tip for Missouri: The reason why you have the 7th highest child hunger rate is because you continue to support wingnut whiners like Davis. This is absolutely pathetic. Just stay in Missouri and don’t infect the rest of the US, you know the parts that actually have intelligence and care about kids.

— Jamie
5:50 pm June 20th, 2009

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