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Charity begins at home

Charity begins at home

Members of Congress just agreed to spend nearly 95 million dollars in humanitarian relief to victims of the war in Gaza. While no one would deny the urgent need for this assistance, it’s also critical that Congress pass a budget to extend the much-needed Women, Infants, and Children(WIC) programs that families depend on for their basic food needs.

Congress remains unsure about extending food programs even though at least 6 million families depend on WIC and an additional six million are eligible to receive the benefit, totaling more than 12 million American families who need the program to assist in providing their next meal. Yet, our current budget is only covering half of the eligible families. While humanitarian efforts persist, Congress should prioritize American women and children. America’s resources are gifted elsewhere while America’s children are begging for relief. When will we see relief from our home food insecurity and hunger that permeate communities across America? According to Feeding America, more than 9 million children face hunger, and of that, 9 million Black and Latino children face hunger at even higher rates because of systemic racial injustice.

Child hunger and food insecurity affect children’s growth and development and are considered a fundamental right. Therefore, it warrants a joint effort to help families contend with the inflated price of food and the lack of access to healthy food choices in their neighborhoods — a structural creation not of their own. Structural racism is the primary driver of race inequalities today, such as the disparity in access to food.

While federally funding WIC, which ensures nutrition for women, infants, and children, can be seen as principal to our country, it is an essential need on the home front to individual states. In states like Ohio, where more than 100,000 families rely on WIC benefits, Groundworks, a children’s advocacy group, has called on citizens to encourage their government representatives to fully fund WIC so that those 100,000 families continue to have the resources needed to survive. That way, Ohioans’ hard work and the bi-partisan efforts led by Andrea White (R-Kettering) and Representative Latyna Humphrey (D-Columbus) in creating Ohio House Bill 7 to modernize WIC, won’t be in vain. HB7 was introduced to modernize the WIC program to serve all eligible families despite impediments such as lack of reliable transportation. Ohio demands that WIC be fully funded so that the modernization progress in Ohio and other States can continue to grow the WIC program to be fully efficient. However, none of the home front needs or progress made in planning for America’s women and children in need seems to matter as our government continues to fund causes abroad yet disputes the need at home.

To be sure, the atrocities of the war in Gaza, where two-thirds of the Gaza victims are women and children, warrant a need, yet our American women, infants, and children suffering from hunger should not be sacrificed. America’s children deserve more than annual threats of cutting programs that have yet to cover all eligible fully. Eradicating child hunger in America is possible and should be met with bipartisan support. Congress can begin eradicating hunger by not only continuing WIC benefits but also ensuring funding that covers 100 percent of eligible families, giving them the opportunity to receive the benefits.

Additionally, just as our economy benefited from a stimulus check, periodic national food stimulus checks should be considered as a method to help those in dire need and those struggling to stay afloat. Moreover, the concept of granting Americans the fundamental human right to food is not unfamiliar to Congress because the  U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food and Nutrition Services mission is to increase food security, so why the resistance? As congress and those who can partake in their next meal, let us never forget that Charity begins at home and then spreads abroad.

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