Op Ed
November 23, 2005

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Thanksgiving thoughts
by Dianna P. Moore

The week of Nov. 13-19 was National Homelessness and Hunger Awareness week. Annually held during the week before Thanksgiving, it gives us pause to contemplate where our priorities are.

]This year, the observance came during the same week when the US House of Representatives was voting on the federal budget affecting food stamps, Medicaid and child support making it especially poignant.

What does it say about our family values this Thanksgiving when:

•26,000 individuals experience homelessness each day in Missouri,
• almost 13,000 children in Missouri do not have their own beds to sleep in at night.
• 23% of those who served our country are homeless,
•10% of our families (233,000 households) in Missouri live with hunger or the threat of hunger; and
• 90% of those receiving food stamps nationally live below the poverty line?

What does it say about our priorities when the US House of Representatives approved:

• cuts in the Food Stamp Program, the nation’s first line of defense against hunger, which if signed into law, will result in over 200,000 low-income people loosing their food stamps, and
• weakening other programs that help vulnerable families — millions of whom work in low-wage jobs — make ends meet, such as Medicaid, child support enforcement and child care assistance, forcing these families to spend more of their very limited budgets on other essentials like health care, leaving them even less able to buy adequate food or maintain shelter.

The one good thing you can say about the House cuts is that they haven’t happened yet. The House and Senate still have to work out a final agreement on the budget.

Right now Congress is on its Thanksgiving recess, and its members have returned to their districts to find out what’s on voters’ minds. It is time we stand up and let them know we support true family values. It is time we let them know that we support a government that helps rather than hurts and these cuts are unacceptable.

It is time our legislators know that we believe each and every family and individual in Missouri has a right to sit around a full Thanksgiving table in their own warm homes or apartments. In doing this, perhaps this year’s Thanksgiving dinner will taste a little better.

Dianna P. Moore is the executive director of the Missouri Association for Social Welfare. Go to www.masw.org for more information.


              
              
                 

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