Kudos to Gene Nichol for telling us what we need to hear
Gene Nichol, JD, is the Boyd Tinsley Distinguished Professor of Law and director of the UNC Center on Poverty, Work and Opportunity. Professor Nichol shared sobering facts about hunger in our state in a News & Observer commentary.
In North Carolina, food insecurity is rapidly on the rise. In 2007, 12.6 percent of us were classified as hungry. Last year, it was 19.6 percent, or 1.9 million. Twenty-eight percent of our children, over 622,000, meet the federal standard. We have the tenth highest food insecurity rate in the United States. Feeding America has reported that, for children under 5, we’re No. 2, trailing only Louisiana.
The massive 2012 Gallup/Food Research and Action Center study, “Food Hardship in America,” also identified the Greensboro-High Point metropolitan statistical area as having the second highest hunger rate in the entire nation.
How can this be? Today, in this state, with significant agricultural production and pockets of great affluence, children are going to sleep hungry. It’s not what we want to hear, not in this great state, great country. We’re better than that. Surely, we can do better for our children. Much has been learned about the long-term effects of early childhood feeding and education on health and well-being well into adulthood. Saving dollars by allowing children and families to be hungry will not make North Carolina stronger, and we will pay sooner or later.
I just returned from a meeting of deans of schools of public health. They were incredulous about what is happening in North Carolina. So am I.
Wishing us a better tomorrow. Barbara