Urging our nation's leaders to end hunger
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Cutting food assistance now would be cruel

By Clint McCann on November 18, 2013
© St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Thanks for printing the commentary by Glenn Koenen and Zach Schmidt. They are absolutely correct: "Hunger cannot be solved by charity alone" (Nov. 13). Zach Schmidt's organization, Bread for the World, has recently produced an excellent documentary film that fully supports their conclusions. It should be required viewing for every U.S. citizen, especially our elected officials. Of the several statistical realities highlighted in the film, two are especially revealing:

1. One out of every two children in the U.S. will spend at least part of his childhood on some sort of public food-assistance. This is an appalling situation, and it should be an embarrassment to our nation. As Jeff Bridges, who founded the End Hunger Network, says: If another nation were doing this to our kids, we'd go to war with them.

2. In 1980, there were 200 food banks and pantries in the U.S. Today there are 40,000! While this may speak well of our charitable impulses, it shows we have created a permanent under-class that has no choice but to ask for help to feed themselves and their families. Even as food banks and pantries have proliferated at an incredible rate, hunger has increased to the point that 50 million of our citizens are regularly hungry or food-insecure.

In short, charity alone is not solving the problem. To cut SNAP and other food-assistance programs at a time when there are clearly not enough decent-paying jobs in our country is simply economically short-sighted and just plain cruel.

Clint McCann  •  Webster Groves

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