Judy of Ocean City, MD

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We need to help our neighbors feed their families

on July 23, 2013

Life in Ocean City is a paradox. Visitors enjoy our beautiful area, dining and recreational opportunities, while our service workers struggle to make ends meet. We value the tourists who provide work for our residents, but we also need to consider the plight of our low-income neighbors.

According to 2011 data from Feeding America, 23.9 percent of Worcester County’s children are food insecure.  In Wicomico County, 20.9 percent of children are hungry. Both of these percentages are above the average for the state of Maryland, which is 19 percent.

Low wages are a primary reason for food insecurity. Families are not being paid enough for their expenses and for food. Nutrition support has eliminated many marginalized families who previously qualified. What happens to families and their children when food is scarce? They depend on food available through food banks, meals at local churches, Maryland Food Bank programs, school breakfasts, lunches and food pantries, food backpack drives and hunger campaigns (such as, The No Kid Hungry Campaign). Once considered emergency sources, they have become crucial as parents strive to feed their children.

What is the cost of child hunger? Dr. Mariana Chilton of Center for Hunger-Free Communities stresses the impact hunger has on the cognitive, social and emotional growth of children. During the crucial formative years, poor nutrition is detrimental. Children with food insecurity are more frequently hospitalized, and their academic performance is affected.

Child obesity is a national epidemic. In 2009 and 2010, 17 percent of youth were obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, up from 3.5 percent of children who were obese in 1960. This is a startling contrast. Processed foods are cheap, compared to the high cost of such healthy alternatives as fruit and vegetables. Childhood obesity equates to malnourishment. High- calorie foods fill your stomach, but don’t provide adequate nutrition. With insufficient funds, families don’t have a choice.

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (food stamps) and Women, Infants and Children food programs need to be strengthened. On July 11, the U.S. House of Representatives barely passed a new farm bill, HR 2642.

Nutritional policies were not addressed.   We need to urge our representatives to protect food stamps and WIC. Please write, email and call Rep. Andy Harris, R-Md. 1st, and Senators Ben Cardin and Barbara Mikulski.

Judy Davis lives in West Ocean City.

YOUR VIEW, The Daily Times – Tuesday, July 23, 2013

One response to “We need to help our neighbors feed their families

  1. […] Any number of developments could spark fear and panic. Will the federal credit rating take another hit? Will more cities turn belly up? Will the screws be tightened on the poor? The government has been forced to abandon the words “Food Stamps.” Now they call it SNAP, but they’re not fooling anybody. Lots of voters hate the idea of giving away food, it turns out. Plenty of politicians are listening. Some would shut off all food assistance. A concise summary of the problem on the Eastern Shore of Maryland is here. […]

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