Almost 16 million American kids—one in five—live in poverty.
From the Share our Strength website, we can follow the progression of what happens if kids—students trying to learn—go without food:
1. That child who doesn’t have enough to eat isn’t going to do as well in school.
2. And is likely to get sick more often.
3. She’s less likely to graduate from high school and go on to college, which will have a negative impact on her economic future.
4. If this happens, then twenty years from now, she’s much less likely to be able to earn enough to feed her family.
Seen that way, combating child hunger, apart from the obvious morality of it, is simply an investment in America’s future well-being.
And Mr. Legitimate Rape, Todd Akin, is on the wrong side of this moral and practical issue, too.
According to an article in the Forum section in Sunday’s Joplin Globe, 646,000 Missouri students received free or reduced-price meals at school in fiscal year 2011. A lot of those kids benefiting from that Truman-era federal program live around here, in conservative Republican-dominated Southwest Missouri, and from its beginning the federal school lunch program was opposed by—guess who?—conservative Republicans.
Todd Akin is one of those. The Joplin Globe reports:
According to a report in The Columbia Daily Tribune, Akin said he wasn’t opposed to feeding children, but that it wasn’t the federal government’s job to pay for it.
The state, he said, is responsible for education, and if providing breakfast and lunch was important then state and local governments could pick up the tab.
If providing breakfast and lunch was important? Huh? The Globe continued:
Akin was one of only 13 members of the House of Representatives to vote against a resolution expressing support for the National School Lunch Program. In March 2010, Akin voted against House Resolution 362, a resolution expressing support for the goals and ideals of the school lunch program.
Those 13 “members” who voted against expressing support for the school lunch program were actually all Republicans, and they represent many of the nuttiest of the nutty Tea Party conservatives. Here’s a partial list, just to give you an idea of the kind of company Akin is in:
♦ Ron Paul (Yep! that one from Texas)
♦ Paul Broun (of GA; he once suggested Mr. Obama was ready to establish a Marxist dictatorship)
♦ Jason Chaffetz (of UT; this federal school lunch hater is a big-time Romney surrogate)
♦ Virginia Foxx (of NC; who once suggested that old folks would be “put to death by their government” if Democrats’ health reform passed; she also said we have more to fear from it than “any terrorist right now in the country”)
♦ Scott Garrett (of NJ; creationist birther)
♦ Doug Lamborn (of CO; Big Bird hater; the most partisan man in Congress and a man who suggested President Obama was a “tar baby”)
♦ James Sensenbrenner (of WI; introduced The Patriot Act in the House; if that ain’t enough, he referenced the First Lady’s “big butt”; to give you a sense of his temperament, Jon Stewart said after a weird episode in the House: “Oh my God, he literally took his gavel and went home; we are officially being governed by children.”; Rolling Stone referred to him as “the dictator”)
♦ John Shadegg (formerly of AZ; a man who called the health care reform effort, “full-on Russian gulag, Soviet-style gulag health care,” and believes Muslim spies are invading Congress
You can see that Akin, given his history of reactionary weirdness, can hold his own with these folks, and you can also see that his opposition to the federal lunch program is based on some strange moral principles that, for now, only a tiny minority of Republicans in Congress hold.
As far as “state and local governments” picking up the tab for school lunches, the Globe cites the Columbia Daily Tribune as saying,
ending federal subsidies for school lunches in Missouri would add $260 million to state spending. Budget and education officials say that money is not available, and Missouri requires a balanced budget.
Missouri has already made cuts for school buses, Career Ladder programs, teacher professional development and Parents as Teachers.
So, it is clear that there is no money in the budget and no chance that Missouri legislators, overwhelmingly Republicans, would raise the revenue necessary to keep kids from going hungry at school.
And Todd Akin, who is as we speak representing Missouri in the House of Representatives and wants to represent our state in the U.S. Senate, knows that. He knows that if his opposition to the federal school lunch program ever became the GOP majority view, if his party successfully killed it, that Missouri students would go hungry.
He knows that. And all Missourians should know that he knows that.
For her part, Claire McCaskill, who supports the federal school lunch program—which over this year will cost about the same as two month’s worth of the Afghanistan war does right now—said,
Do I want the federal government to spend less? Yes. But I don’t want to turn out the lights and go home on the most important parts of our economy.