The ‘clean plate club’ revisited

Growing up, we Baby Boomers often heard our parents urge us to clean our plates because children were starving in China, or India, or some other far off country.

But we’ve known all along that hunger is a real issue in the United States, too. And a report released Nov. 16 by the U.S. Department of Agriculture showed that 49 million people now live in households where there sometimes isn’t enough to eat.

That’s not only the highest number reported since the government began tracking “food insecurity” 14 years ago, but also an increase of 13 million from just a year ago.

This has to be one of the most frightening statistics related to the recession. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack called these numbers “a wake-up call for the country.”

More than half a million of the U.S. households with “very low food security,” where meals are being skipped and portions cut, include children.

It’s not hard to put two and two together. Too many children are going hungry.

“Child hunger is not just a casualty of the recession,” said David Beckmann, president of Bread for the World, in a statement about the report. “It was a problem before the recession, and unless we take the necessary steps, kids will continue to suffer after the economy recovers.”

Involvement in Bread for the World, which is releasing its own annual hunger report on Nov. 23, is just one of many ways in which United Methodists can address the issue of hunger.

It’s time to step up our efforts to fill the empty plates of others.

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