I wrote this yesterday, but toned it down a bit because this subject really pisses me off…. enjoy!!
Hardly a week goes by without a new story about “hunger in America”, hungry kids, free school lunch ect… This report which made Drudge today yesterday, based on a census report claims that 29% of households with kids are “food insecure”. I happen to have a household with 3 kids, and I happen to know how to use a spreadsheet, so here is what I came up with.
First, I just wanted to step back from the seriousness of the issue, gather some facts, and create a baseline….how much does it cost for 2500 calories per day from different sources? My guess was that white rice would be the cheapest, but how cheap? Turns out I was wrong…not only is it more delicious, but vegetable oil is also a marginally cheaper source of calories than long grain white rice. If you found yourself just really hard up for calories, vegetable oil is your best bet at $0.42 per day. Yummy!! Rice was a close second at $0.54 per day. Pinto beans were more expensive than I thought they would be, at $1.26 per day. A whole uncooked chicken would be $2.53 per person per day. Now, I am definitely not suggesting you try to live for an entire year (or day) eating only vegetable oil. $155 for an entire year of calories may seem like a yummy bargain, but it’s really not… but rice…., a good chunk of the global population uses rice as a primary staple…that’s not so crazy.
On the other end of the spectrum, you may be interested in knowing that you could eat only steak (at $5/lb) for $15.63 per day or Whataburger #1 meal for $11.16 (sorry, no refills on that coke, and only 2500 calories per day). Now, the point of all this is that somewhere between a vegetable oil diet at $0.42 per day, and a T-bone steak diet at $15.63 has to be a reasonable estimate of how much it costs to feed a child. Note that I used 2500 calories per day…which is way more than most kids need, but at least it gives us a conservative baseline. Below is a snapshot of my spreadsheet:
Now, I don’t know what “food insecure” means exactly, but we aren’t really talking about kids actually starving….as in zero calories per day. What we are talking about is a kid who gets home, and there is no food in the house for dinner…which obviously sucks for the kid…that’s just terrible, but I just have to ask the parent… Really?? You don’t have a friggin quarter to make your kids a big ass bowl of beans and rice to tide them over? $0.50 for a box of mac and cheese?? How the hell does that even happen? If you don’t have a quarter, you don’t have a family member, or a friend/neighbor….with a quarter?
This is all just unbelievable to me. The homeless guy I pass by on my way home every evening has a quarter. Hell, he has a pack of cigarettes and a beer gut, so I’m pretty sure he could afford to cook a bowl of beans and rice on his camp stove. No, the truth is, we don’t have a problem with hungry kids, we have a problem with dumba*% selfish parents who spend their last quarter on countless crap they don’t need….then who boohoo to the media about not having enough money to feed their kids. Find me a hungry kid whose parents canceled their $100/month cell phone plan so they could feed their kids? Or who hasn’t eaten fast food in the last month, or who’s parents haven’t spent money on a drop of alcohol or who don’t drive a shiny new car… You will find some no doubt, but not many… surely not 29%…probably way less than 1%.
I did some searching, and it turns out that the Food Stamp Program will provide up to $668 per month, for a family of four…though if there are other income sources, it could be less. But the math is clear…we don’t have a hunger problem in this country….if people/kids are hungry, it is almost certainly because they, or their caretakers have decided to spend what little money it would take to keep their bellies full on things that aren’t food. We may have a moral problem, or a financial literacy problem, or even a child abuse problem, but we do not have a hunger problem per se.. Anyone with an income can at a minimum feed themselves and their kids using some basic staples and a cooking pot. Anyone without an income could do so using the overly generous food stamp program. So if you find hungry children…odds are…you will find an irresponsible parent. That, incidentally, is a number I can believe in…29% of all parents are irresponsible?? Sounds kinda low, but it’s definitely in the ballpark.