The Garden City Telegram
11/17/2013
OPINIONS AND COMMENTARY

Hunger pangs

Shortsighted policies mean more people will be needy.

Charities in Kansas know the escalating woes of the poor in our midst.

More sad news came in a report from the Kansas Food Bank, which is on track to break a record set last year in the number of hungry children who receive weekend backpacks.

Schoolchildren — including some locally — who receive breakfast and lunch at school also may be issued backpacks of food intended to help them through the weekend. They must be deemed "chronically hungry" to receive the assistance.

The Kansas Food Bank, which is aided by contributions, and other charities in Kansas have seen a steady increase in poverty and hunger since the recent recession.

The number of Kansas children living in poverty has been on the rise since at least 2000.

And now, one in five children reportedly live in poverty — a disturbing statistic that proves the state needs better initiatives to assist poor children and their families.

In his "Road Map for Kansas," Gov. Sam Brownback vowed to reduce poverty. But our ultraconservative Republican governor and his camp have instead pursued such hurtful strategies as cutting people off the welfare rolls (many of them children); erasing child tax credits and a sales tax rebate on food that helped the working poor; and rejecting Medicaid expansion that would provide care for up to 250,000 poor Kansans at little cost to the state — while also injecting hundreds of millions of dollars into the state's economy.

Another mean-spirited strategy came in cutting taxes for rich Kansans while allowing the tax rate for the poor to rise.

The plan to push Kansas toward zero state income tax only shows ultraconservative Republicans are content to pay for a corporate-friendly benefit and significant loss of state income by pursuing deep cuts to vital state-funded services and programs, including assistance for the poor.

With that in mind, it should be no surprise to see more Kansas children plunged into poverty, with a grim outlook. Sadly, the unacceptable plight of so many youngsters going hungry would be just part of the devastating fallout if Kansas continues on its current economic path.