No reason for Nebraskans to go hungry

Friday, March 4, 2011

Nebraska has nearly four times as many cattle as people, so it's ironic that while we have no trouble feeding the cows, one in six people have had trouble feeding themselves in the last year.

That's the news from a new report released by the Food Research and Action Center, which showed the rate was even worse nationally -- one in five respondents.

Nebraska's highest rate was in the Omaha-Council Bluffs area, where 18.8 percent of people experienced food hardship. By congressional district, 14.1 percent in the 1st, 17.9 percent in the 2nd and 14.6 percent in the 3rd reported having trouble buying food for themselves or their family in the past year.

Groups like the Nebraska Appleseed and the FARC are using the data to promote LB543, which would take up a federal option to provide outreach activities for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly Food Stamps. Legislators have loosened limits to allow people with emergency savings and other resources to qualify if they are low income and meet other requirements.

The change may or may not be the best way to address the issue, but FARC president Jim Weill is correct in his contention that "with persistently high unemployment and underemployment across the nation, we have to strengthen programs that benefit those who are struggling."

But there are definitely things we can do immediately on a local level. More food and volunteers are definitely needed for the community meals offered at Memorial United Methodist Church each Thursday from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. If you, your church or civic group would like to help, call (308) 345-2445 or e-mail memorial@swnebr.net

And, more and more people are being forced to resort to the obtaining food from the McCook Pantry, which is sponsored by the Red Willow Country Ministerial Association and serves McCook and surrounding areas. If you would like to donate or volunteer, contact the Rev. Mary Hendricks at St. Alban's Episcopal church at (308) 345-4844. The Pantry is at 509 W. First and is open 1 -- 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.

And there's much more that can be done.

Yes, some people find themselves in dire straits because of poor life choices, but many are there because of no fault of their own.

How about mentoring a younger single parent or mobilizing resources to help needy people improve their lives?

With springtime near, how about organizing a community garden or planting extra for needy friends?

In this peaceful prairie land, there is no reason for anyone to go to bed hungry.

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  • It's a shame that you didn't mention in your article that Nebraska's rate actually declined in 2010.

    There is no need to open up the flood gates on food stamps and exasperate the budget with more entitlement programs.

    I also wonder on the questions asked concerning food hardships how many are at the poverty level and how many aren't. I would like to have them ask questions like , "In the last year have you paid more than $50 for tennis shoes. Did you buy the following this year, IPOD, Computers, cars, homes, video games, how often do you eat out? How often do you buy alcohol, cigarettes, or drugs?

    I can see increasing food stamps for inflation to poor people, but let's face it, Americans blow money on unneccesary things and their priorities are messed up.

    We don't need to dole out more in Nebraska, we need to tighten requirements and qualifiers.

    Yes our communities can and should do more to make sure no one ever goes hungry. The government is not the answer.

    -- Posted by Jerie Quinty on Tue, Mar 8, 2011, at 4:58 PM
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