Forty percent of all food produced in the United States ends up in the garbage. A statistic that I found shocking, but given the nature of American consumption I was not taken aback when it was relayed during a presentation by Dana Mitchel, Nutrition Coordinator with the Lowcountry Food Bank during a Cooking Matters orientation for Eat Smart Move More Colleton County.
It was when she relayed that one in four Lowcountry children go hungry that startled me. The national average is one in six according to the nonprofit No Kid Hungry. For those of us that have even a bit of experience in educational environments the impact that nutrition has in the overall well being of the young (as well as the young at heart), is huge.
The same day I learn from the South Carolina EOC that the percentage of students reading on grade level has remained flat in our state and that the ability continues to decline as they move forward in school. A wake-up call? That's more like a hurricane siren heralding certain disaster to follow.A little over twenty-seven percent of our children are going hungry and they can't read. There's a mix of disappointing news.
Add to that a recent article by Bill Davis with the Statehouse Report that indicates no matter how grave an error it was to pass and implement a piece of legislation intended to support our school operating budgets in the state, it seems unlikely to get resolved at the hands of those responsible. "Vexing" was Mr. Davis' term, but in the body of this article it speaks more plainly with a quote from Wes Hayes (R-Rock Hill), who chairs the Finance subcommittee on K-12 education. "Simply put, there is no political will in the Statehouse to get rid of Act 388,” said Hayes. Why? He said the political toll would be too high for legislators who want to stay in office to take away a tax break from homeowners, the majority of voters. More importantly, he said there were few options outside of changing Act 388. To rub more salt into education’s wounds, Hayes said he didn't know when, if ever, the state would “catch up” with mandated per pupil funding levels. For the past five years, the legislature has voted for special one-year laws to cut about a third of mandated per-pupil funding levels.
Very easy for some to say "Not in my back yard. My back yard is clear of under served young people. My household is well-fed and we all read." Good for you. In the mean time, your single mindedness has allowed the foundation of what a community thrives on, its people~ALL its people, to go untended and to fall into decay.
When a quarter of your young people can't read and go hungry ~ and you continue to disregard what happens outside your pristine back yard ~ no amount of success will ever come from that patch of lush green grass in that coveted back yard of yours.
At some point the deplorable state of the lawns surrounding you will dominate the landscape and no amount of turf management you employ in your own back yard will keep the stark reminder of your unwillingness to "step in" from being painfully evident. Step in, irrigate, weed and seed the landscape of your community.