For all the government programs and private efforts in this land of plenty, you'd think we'd have beaten the hunger issue. After all, this is not the Third World where children's bellies are bloated from malnutrition.
We live in the Fifth Child World.
Statistics from the USDA and Feeding America group recently came to our attention when there was a child hunger summit in Collinsville. We checked their numbers, and Madison and St. Clair counties both have about one in five of their children not knowing where their next meal will come from.
Pass a school at recess and pick out every fifth child. That is a lot of hungry kids. That is a lot of kids not exactly paying attention and testing poorly because they went hungry or were poorly fed. That's a lot of health care costs as poor nutrition spirals into obesity and diabetes or other developmental problems.
The summit was trying to spread the school breakfast programs. Forty percent of metro-east school are not offering breakfast at school.
We dislike the government and schools having to take on parental duties. We like even less the thought of children going to school without breakfast, or with breakfast consisting of a bag of chips and colored sugar water.
We have a problem that won't go away by browbeating parents who allow situations we wouldn't imagine allowing our own children to endure. We have got a community problem that demands attention because inattention will let it quietly nibble away at our collective future.