Let’s Move this Country Forward!

In this week of Thanksgiving, I’ve been thinking a lot about food – more specifically the growing number of hungry Americans. In 2012, there were 15.8 million kids living in food-insecure homes in this country. A growing number of these children don’t even live in homes! A staggering 2.5 million children – or 1 in every 30 children – are homeless in America.

It’s ironic that food insecurity is an issue in a country where each farmer grows enough food to feed 155 people! As recently as 1960, a farmer only feed 25.8 people. You’d think we’d be making strides in feeding everyone, yet it seems we’re becoming more of a country of “haves and have nots.”

While 1 in 6 Americans struggles with hunger, obesity is becoming a real problem for a growing number of Americans. The percentage of children aged 6–11 years in the United States who were obese increased from 7% in 1980 to nearly 18% in 2012, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The percentage of obese adolescents aged 12–19 years increased from 5% to nearly 21% during the same period.

Why is one in five kids in this prosperous country at risk of going to bed hungry? (And I’m not even talking about school lunches!) Is hunger related to the percentage of income it takes in this country to buy food? Data from the U.S. Agriculture Department (USDA) shows that Americans spent only 6.6 percent of their 2012 household income on food. Americans spend less of their income on food than any other country.

Is there a correlation between hungry Americans and the percentage of the food dollar that gets returned to the farmer? This week I’ve been engaged in a related conversation started by farm broadcaster Trent Loos. This online discussion reports that a farmer only receives from 11.6 to 18 cents each food dollar, so this stat alone would suggest that hunger in America is caused by something else.

With a growing amount of welfare support including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), as well as school lunch programs and summer lunch programs, one would think everyone is getting everyone fed! I believe food (in)security is a very complex issue. It’s one that will take time and many different approaches to fix, but I do believe it can be fixed!

It not politically correct for me to say this, I know, but I believe the deterioration of moral values is a major reason we’re seeing an increasing number of homeless and hungry people. When I was child, families were intact and parents took pride in working hard to put food on their own tables. America’s family and living arrangements have changed drastically. The number of single-parent households is on the rise. Broken families are a huge issue; it’s very difficult for a single parent to pay for the costs of living today.

In addition to food and clothing, many Americans now feel entitled to cable TV, gaming systems and smartphones. The average U.S. household today has more televisions than people! Priorities have changed during the past 50 years, and the line between wants and needs has become blurred.

It’s time to stop the attitude of entitlement! Government handouts are not working. Education and training programs all good ways to start. American workers don’t need a PhD, but they do need skills and training to make a good living.

Every student gets a good job when graduating from North Iowa Community College in Industrial Technology (welding, tool and die, diesel technology, building trades). The Iowa State College of Agriculture has a 98% placement rate. It’s being done… this is how we can move this country forward! I truly believe we can do this if we get our values back where they belong!

This Thanksgiving I hope you and your family will enjoy time together and give thanks for all of blessings. Whether you celebrate with ham or turkey, remember wrapping it in #bacon makes everything better. 🙂 Happy Thanksgiving!