'A hollow pain'.Byline: The Register-Guard
Children are going hungry in Oregon.
As The Register-Guard's Susan Palmer reports in today's edition, the degree and severity of that hunger varies, depending on where children live, their poverty level and their access to the social services social services
welfare services provided by local authorities or a state agency for people with particular social needs
social services npl → servicios mpl sociales , school food programs and charities that help feed low-income children and their families.
But make no mistake, children are going hungry in Oregon - and in Lane County. That ugly reality should get the full attention of every public official and every citizen in this state. There can be no higher priority than making certain that kids have enough to eat.
Last year in Lane County, the number of students who qualify for free school meals has grown by an alarming 10 percent over the past two years. The people closest to the problem - social workers and school officials who see hungry children every day - attest To solemnly declare verbally or in writing that a particular document or testimony about an event is a true and accurate representation of the facts; to bear witness to. To formally certify by a signature that the signer has been present at the execution of a particular writing so as to the severity of the problem. Listen to their words: "We know there's hunger," says Connie Sullivan, who heads the Women, Infants and Children nutrition program in Lane County. Maxine Proscurowski, health services health services Managed care The benefits covered under a health contract coordinator for River Road Elementary School elementary school: see school. in Eugene, describes seeing "real visual proof that kids are malnourished mal·nour·ished
Affected by improper nutrition or an insufficient diet. ."
Listen also to the words of a 19-year-old homeless teen named Aaron, who is living on the streets of Eugene. "It's like a hollow pain all over," he says, describing the hunger that recently caused him to lose 11 pounds in a week.
As Palmer's stories make clear, neither the causes nor solutions are simple. In Lane County, there is an extensive safety net of public and private programs that provide food to children of impoverished im·pov·er·ished
1. Reduced to poverty; poverty-stricken. See Synonyms at poor.
2. Deprived of natural richness or strength; limited or depleted: families. But the cords of that net have been weakened by state and federal budget cuts and by an ailing economy that threatens to reduce the flow of charitable giving.
The shadow of hunger falls most heavily on the working poor who often qualify for little or no outside assistance and who don't have enough money left over for food after paying for housing, utilities, transportation, medical care and other expenses.
Ultimately, the most effective solution for such families is a rebound in the state's ailing economy and an increase in the number of jobs that pay enough to enable families to meet household budgets. Oregon has one of the country's fastest-growing gaps between its poorest and wealthiest residents. That's a trend that must be reversed before child hunger can be eradicated.
Shortly after taking office, Gov. Ted Kulongoski Theodore R. "Ted" Kulongoski (born November 5 1940, in rural Missouri) is an American Democratic politician. Since 2003, he has served as the Governor of Oregon. He was re-elected in 2006. took the welcome step of convening con·vene
v. con·vened, con·ven·ing, con·venes
To come together usually for an official or public purpose; assemble formally.
1. a statewide hunger summit. Such a high-level focus on the reality of hunger in our midst was long overdue OVERDUE. A bill, note, bond or other contract, for the payment of money at a particular day, when not paid upon the day, is overdue.
2. The indorsement of a note or bill overdue, is equivalent to drawing a new bill payable at sight. 2 Conn. 419; 18 Pick. .
Meanwhile, state lawmakers have crafted several measures aimed at reducing Oregon's child hunger problem. One of them, Senate Bill 287, could increase summer food programs for children, SB 500 seeks to expand low-income families' access to farmers markets, and House Bill 2888 would use matching federal funds Federal Funds
Funds deposited to regional Federal Reserve Banks by commercial banks, including funds in excess of reserve requirements.
These non-interest bearing deposits are lent out at the Fed funds rate to other banks unable to meet overnight reserve to develop a statewide food stamp food stamp
A stamp or coupon, issued by the government to persons with low incomes, that can be redeemed for food at stores.
Noun 1. outreach campaign. Only one of these bills has made it out of committee, a sorry situation that local legislators should take the lead in changing as soon as possible.
Yet another promising measure, HB 2450, has passed the House and Senate and was signed last week by the governor. Aimed at getting welfare families with children out of the cycle of low-paying jobs, it will allow a parent who receives welfare to attend college instead of job hunting or working, as currently required.
Meanwhile, individuals can help locally by donating money and food supplies to FOOD for Lane County and other organizations that feed the hungry. The governor's office also has set up a special account allowing private individuals and businesses to contribute to an existing government program and receive tax breaks in return.
These are good beginnings, but much more remains to be done. No one should rest as long there are hungry children in Oregon.