YOU SAY POTATO: "Trying to expose a little more brown gravel?" smirks my friend, when he sees me yanking out "marvelous strands of native grasses."
My sister stops by and leaves behind the remark that I am possessed by my house. Last year she said I was obsessed, but she has upgraded my obsession since then. "Are you finished?" she asks, assuming, incorrectly, there is a beginning and an end to any obsession, let alone a remodeling project.
What she sees as possession, I see as a project. What my friend sees as native grasses, I deem weeds. This is what makes us friends--we adore and respect our differences.
If only I could operate on this level with my government, which wants to take food and money from kids while I want to give more. Right now the country's leaders are, with their disgraceful welfare bill, screwing with how kids will eat in this country. The House approved by 35 votes a welfare "reform" plan, one part of which will send the federally funded school meal programs into the often incompetent hands of the states.
Mornings, I walk through my kids' elementary school cafeteria, every seat filled with children scooping cold cereal or pancakes into their mouths. They are hungry this morning, every morning, as kids are. In a few hours they will eat their hot lunch at school. Half of the 62,000 kids in TUSD qualify for free or reduced meals. At my kids' school 346 of the 528 kids qualify. In Arizona nearly 45 percent of students are eligible.
The House approved giving block grants to states to fund school lunch programs. Cuts in funding over the next five years for those programs will follow, despite inflation and extreme growth in a state like Arizona. And if you feel like this state should be put in charge of how food gets into kids' mouths, eat this: A Children's Action Alliance report says that Arizona ranks 37th in the nation when it comes to child well-being. Twenty-two percent of our kids live in poverty. A total of 101,813 women and children receive food through the Women, Infants and Children feeding program (WIC)--and that's only 51 percent of those eligible. Nearly one out of every four kids in this state receives food stamps. More people, fewer dollars, and a state with a poor record of taking care of its kids. I hear stomachs growling in the desert wind.
The pot-bellies of Washington are indigestibly out of touch if they think that cutting taxes through a child's stomach is the way to make a country look, think and act better. Shame on Arizona's all-male Congressional Republicans--Hayworth, Kolbe, Salmon, Shadegg and Stump--for voting this measure in. Only Democrat Ed Pastor said no.
This country, fields ripe now in its warmest states, readying for planting in the cold ones, should appropriate the words of one struggling mother on food stamps: "I must feed my children before I feed myself."
See you at the corner market, warriors.
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