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Est. April 5, 2002
Jan 30, 2020 - Issue 803
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Hunger And Malnutrition in America
Continue to Grow


"It is quite clear that hamburgers, pizza, and
french fried potatoes are the best and easiest for all,
including children.  That's the fare the Trump Administration
wants to see on the menu of every school in the country.
Highly processed foods are highly desirable...

The famously junk-food-eating president of the U.S. apparently wants millions of children to follow in his footsteps, endangering their health and their development into adulthood, as his government eases toward more fast food for school lunches and drops 700,000 from food stamp benefits.

It has been a long struggle for Americans to learn that food in its original form is the best, but the food industry has developed ways to take advantage of farmers and farm workers and they have, over decades, convinced people that processed foods are the best for them and they're convenient. That's the sales pitch, but it is quite clear that hamburgers, pizza, and french fried potatoes are the best and easiest for all, including children. That's the fare the Trump Administration wants to see on the menu of every school in the country. Highly processed foods are highly desirable, if you were to believe the actions and directives of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Well known is the obsession of Donald Trump to overturn every regulation and policy that was achieved by Barack Obama, his predecessor. It isn't just that Obama's limited successes in intelligent regulations tended to hamper the piling up of profits of Trump's compatriots in the 1 percent, rather it's because they were achieved by the nation's first black president. Trump could not tolerate that, not from before he was inaugurated, but with increased ferocity after he swore his oath of office. That's what could be expected from a president who has tried his best to show that he is not a racist. But, his acts in power give that away and he can proclaim all he wants that he is not racist, but his vicious policies and executive orders have exposed his racism for all to see.

It is with that in mind that the changes in school lunch programs and the cutting off of food stamps from nearly a quarter of a million needy families that the school lunch program changes must be viewed. After all, the changes to higher quality and higher nutritional value in school lunches was a primary goal of Michelle Obama, in her fight against obesity, especially in children. In that, she was successful and school lunches improved, offering more vegetables and fruit and fewer foods that offered more fat and empty calories.

Trump officialdom threw up its collective hands and declared that there would be even more food waste in schools if higher quality lunches were offered. That turned out not to be true, since even the USDA in a recent report showed that so-called “plate waste” was just about the same with the healthier breakfasts and lunches as it was before. His return to obesity-inducing food for school breakfasts and lunches is simply a reflection of his contempt for common sense and decency. There are millions of families in the U.S. who need those meals for their children and need the food stamps (now known as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP) to put some food on their tables. Even so, there are untold millions who are food insecure, if not hungry every day.

As the Washington Post noted recently in an editorial: “Nearly 14 million U.S. children, about 19 percent, are obese, with an increased risk of diet-related chronic diseases that threaten their health and longevity.” One would have a hard time separating the the effects of the standard American diet and the healthcare crisis that exists today, and which especially affects the poor and marginalized. They neither have easy access to regular health care or to healthy food, living in what are called “food deserts,” where there are few supermarkets or other means of buying health food. What is available to them are convenience stores that provide fat-inducing fare.

In places like Native American reservations are found the worst conditions in the country and those conditions are so bad that, on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, life expectancy is about 52 years for women and 48 for men. It's not only food deprivation (these are, indeed, food deserts on a grand scale), but deprivation of the amenities of life, such as running water, heat in the bitter cold winters, and housing that keeps out the constant winds. Food stamps are necessary in reservations, but all of the other substandard conditions must be addressed some day, for these conditions are the direct result of policies of the government and its unilateral abrogation of treaties that were signed the century-before-last. There isn't much of a word about these most vulnerable people from the Trump Administration, as it shamelessly seeks to find money in the budget for a southern wall and the bloated military. Taking it from budgets for the poor and elderly, the disabled, and the children seems to them to be the easiest way to find the money.

To make matters worse, the Trump Administration set out work requirements for food stamp recipients, which is what is expected to cause hundreds of thousands to lose the small benefit. About 80 percent of the USDA's $151 billion (2017) budget goes to the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) program. Since the cuts will save the USDA about $5.5 billion over five years, a very small percentage of the department's annual budget. There may be nearly 40 million living at the poverty level in the U.S., but there might be another 40 million who are living from paycheck to paycheck. That's a large percentage of the entire population of the nation. The question to be asked is: Where are the well-paying jobs in manufacturing and industries that were promised by Trump before he became president?

This Administration is out of touch with families who are struggling to make ends meet by working seasonal jobs or part time jobs with unreliable hours,” according to Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich. “Seasonal holiday workers, workers in Northern Michigan’s tourism industry, and workers with unreliable hours like waiters and waitresses are the kinds of workers hurt by this proposal.” Stabenow is the ranking member of the Senate Committee on Agriculture and she has noted that there was an attempt to add work requirements to SNAP within the past year and it was rejected by overwhelming margins by both houses of Congress. In the Senate, the vote against was 68-30 and in the House, 330-83.

There’s a reason Republicans and Democrats overwhelmingly rejected this callous proposal in the Farm Bill and instead focused on bipartisan job training opportunities that actually help families find good paying jobs,” she said.

There's reason that those well-paying jobs are not to be found: It was another con-job of Trump and another lie that manufacturing jobs would be flooding back to the U.S., as if we didn't know that Corporate America was taking millions of jobs out of the country for decades before he came along, but he probably didn't notice, since he was busy trying to make millions in New York and elsewhere and trying to avoid bankruptcy. He failed at avoiding bankruptcy and we don't know how much of a failure he is at making money, because he refuses to release his tax returns.

School lunches, food stamps, hunger and deprivation in the country he purports to lead, to Trump, all of this is like an alien language. To him, those who have not “made it,” as he has are “losers.” And, if people are hungry and food insecure, to him they are such losers that they are beneath his notice and his policies and orders show it. Pity the land. Columnist, John Funiciello, is a former newspaper reporter and labor organizer, who lives in the Mohawk Valley of New York State. In addition to labor work, he is organizing family farmers as they struggle to stay on the land under enormous pressure from factory food producers and land developers. Contact Mr. Funiciello and BC.

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