People need to step up to the plate so hungry kids can have a plate to step up to. That was the message from Texas Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples this week as he promoted a program that will provide free lunches to school children during the summer. The program, costs of which are reimbursed by the federal government, is designed to help kids who qualify for the free and reduced lunch program during the school year.
Staples held a teleconference to encourage school districts, clubs and other organizations to act as local sponsors of the program, according to a report in the Odessa American.
“Communities need to step up to the plate, literally,” Staples said.
Texas has one of the highest rates of childhood poverty and hunger in the country, a fact that often seems to fall on deaf ears in Austin, where the state leadership prides itself on being stingy with public assistance. Remember the reports, just a few months ago, about how far behind the Health and Human Services Commission was in processing food stamp applications from thousands of Texans in need?
And, the plight of impoverished kids and their families will only worsen with the budgetary cuts that Gov. Rick Perry and legislative leaders want the Legislature to impose when it convenes in January.
Staples is correct that groups need to step up to the plate and help out those in need. But so do the governor, the lieutenant governor, the speaker and legislative budget writers who have fallen way short in meeting human needs and are promising to do an even more miserable job in months to come.
Maybe Staples also should have a teleconference with the state leadership. Or, maybe he should sit down and discuss the reality of hunger with the governor maybe over lunch in one of the three dining rooms at the governor’s $10,000permonth, taxpayer financed rental mansion in Austin.
Here is the story about the summer lunch program: