Katie Couric’s Spotlight on Kids, Part 2

Greetings from sunny California, the breadbasket of the world.

This week the CBS Evening News with Katie Couric continued their Children of the Recession report. Most recently, they interviewed a 13 year old boy, named Lewis Roman, living in a single room at a Philadelphia shelter, with his mother and several siblings. Lewis tells CBS:

“I don’t like letting nobody … know I’m hungry,” he says. Lewis told me about trying to fall asleep (and sometimes not being able to) as a way to deal with hunger. He told me how he’ll get so hungry that he’ll feel like throwing up.”

Ms. Couric continues:

Hunger in America isn’t what you might think. In extensive phone calls and while doing research for this story, I learned that a child may technically be eating something but can still be hungry – and thus damaging IQ and impairing cognitive growth. Perhaps a child’s last meal was a bowl or cereal or box of inexpensive noodles. While technically they may have eaten something, it wasn’t nutritious enough to help them develop. When a child is growing — it’s particularly important in years 0-5) – what little of nutritional value consumed is going to basic organ and body development, and the brain is starved of the nutrients it needs.

I have to admit, both Rachel and I weren’t sure if CBS and Katie Couric were going to be able to make good on their promise to keep coming back to these issues. Call me a cynic, but without the mainstream media shining a light on these issues, the American public will soon forget about these little stories after the news cameras go away. CBS and Ms. Couric, if you are reading, it would be an amazing public service if you spun off this segment into a special program, a la Harvest of Shame.

I keep thinking about this one article I read on poverty and hunger in America. These words keep coming back to me:

That kind of poverty is inherently less visually spectacular than a tent city. It’s less likely to get Oprah’s TV audience up in arms. But when the damage from the economic collapse is finally accounted, it is these millions of little stories that will likely leave the most enduring imprint on America’s social landscape.

Millions of little stories add up to something greater. In 20 years we will be older and our babies will have grown up. They will be living in a society with the kids who go hungry TODAY. We hear from all of our partnering agencies that the families who come to them for help are having to make tough choices between food and diapers.

This is *such* a big issue, let’s not bury our head in the sand. Here are some people who turned rhetoric into action:

The Lemon Lady collects fresh produce to donate to Contra Costa food banks. You should check out her blog to get some great ideas on non-profit gardening.

Taking a more punk rock approach, Secret Freegan, rescues food from grocery store dumpsters and donates it to homeless shelters. We follow this person on Twitter, and you should too. Check out their blog here, if only for the pictures of food waiting to go to the county dump.

Have you heard of anyone else who is doing good on this issue? Tell us about them here.