Patricia Montague 2013-01-28 22:43:49
Recognizing Our Roots When I learned that the focus of this month’s magazine was on hunger and poverty, my first thoughts were of the stories my grandmothers and parents shared about life during the Great Depression, in particular, the scarcity of food. As a result of their deprivation, I, like most American Baby Boomers, grew up in a home with a well-stocked pantry and great attention paid to meals—and waste was reviled. My siblings and I were always scolded if our plates weren’t clean: “There are people starving in this country, so eat up!” Despite such admonishments, and reminders to be thankful for life’s blessings, we were shielded from witnessing hunger in our middle-class, suburban Long Island neighborhood. It wasn’t until I graduated from college and started working in New York City in the mid-Eighties that the city’s growing homeless problem brought me face to face with hunger and poverty. Each morning, I would pass homeless people sleeping in the subway stations or in street with nothing but the clothes on their backs; every day, I was asked for money or food. I often gave the change I had in my pocket; it was so sad to see such poverty in a city great wealth. My path eventually led me to the Washington, D.C., area, and I joined this Association in 1993. From the very beginning, when I first learned the organization’s mission, I knew that I was part of something important. When asked about my job, I make a point to mention SNA’s 66-year history in providing a safety net for children, providing them with food, nutrition and nurturing. I am so proud to be supporting your efforts! There is a fundamental truth that hasn’t changed since the earliest school meal programs of a century ago: A hungry child can’t learn. And while it is critical that school nutrition operations provide students with healthy school meals, I am glad that this issue of the magazine is providing an important reminder of the roots of these programs. Hunger and poverty continue to be very real problems in America today. As I write this, reports from different advocacy organizations show that the number of children eligible to receive free or reduced-priced school meals continues to rise. Equally disheartening is another recent study that estimates that fully half of the food purchased in this country is thrown into trash cans. My grandmothers would be appalled; with the advances of the last 50 years, how is it that we still can’t find ways to better manage our country’s abundance and scarcity? For now, I take comfort in knowing that SNA members will continue to do what you do every day—feed our nation’s children, so they are ready to learn. And, as always, your Association will be there to help you any way we can.
Published by School Nutrition Association. View All Articles.
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