by Allen Leigh, contributor
sciencedaily.com has an interesting but different article about helping the poor obtain food. Usually, that site has articles reporting on scientific research, but this article is more of an editorial comment. The article is titled “Know Better, Do Better. Don’t Cut SNAP-Ed Funding”, and the article is directed to persons having an interest in the Farm bill.
The unamed author of the article says the following about feeding the poor.
Access to healthy food is a basic human need and a fundamental right of all Americans. This is why we have programs like SNAP providing assistance to low-income populations and resources so they may purchase food to feed their families. However, as nutrient deficiencies among low-income populations continue to rise, the focus turns to the complexities of food choice. Healthful eating is not intuitive, but rather a learned skill. Navigating the grocery store shelves; deciphering confusing marketing messages, popular trends and nutrition misinformation; understanding ingredient labels and nutrition facts panels; and, possibly most importantly, knowing how to store and cook food properly are all learned skills that make up the foundation for healthful eating. SNAP-Ed is the tool in our belt to help these low-income families learn these skills, take back their kitchen and take back their health.
The author briefly discusses the importance of everyone obtaining healthy food. For example, he/she says, “Right now the SNAP-Ed nutrition program is available in every state and reaches more than 6 million people, but this is only a small fraction of the 50 million or more citizens who are struggling to eat healthfully on a budget.”
The article concludes with the following statement.
However, as debate continues regarding reauthorization of the Farm Bill, the proposed funding cuts would swiftly undermine the goal of these programs. While the effects of cuts vary by state, if the integrity of these programs is decimated, low-income, hungry families will have less to eat and less nutrition knowledge to help them lead a healthy life, which is something we will all ultimately pay for.
Regardless of your feelings about SNAP, this article is thought provoking and should be read by all. My own feelings are mixed. Generally, I favor a reduced role for government, but the problem of unhealthy Americans is so great, I don’t think private charities can solve the problem. Without government intervention, millions of Americans will continue going without healthy food. The problem, as I see it, is that government-help must be given in a way that people will learn to help themselves. As the Chinese proverb suggests, don’t just feed hungry people, teach them how to fish.