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Monday

Close Schools, No Food

Close Schools, No Food?! What? MSNBC is running a story along with several other web and mainstream media talking about various fallout from the winter storms that have hit the Maryland/Virgina/D.C. area.  Living in Western NY, it is somewhat difficult for me to understand how 2-3 inches of snow can close an area down. (I don't bother to shovel the driveway until we get 6 inches of snow!) With that said, this storm dropped more than 2-3 inches; it left 30-35 inches of snow on areas that are not geared to deal with it. That much snow is a show stopper no matter where you are. But the snow is not the point of today's post.

Among the various secondary impacts is the fact that schools are closed and therefore, kids are going hungry, leaving families without any food.
"The two snowstorms that pummeled the region, leaving more than 3 feet of snow in some areas, deprived tens of thousands of children from Virginia to Pennsylvania of the free or reduced-price school lunch that may be their only nutritious meal of the day...."
I can understand the need for reduced price or free lunch programs and support the effort. However, I have to ask how this situation is possible...if you don't go to school, you don't eat?! This snowstorm was predicted well in advance and nobody took the time (knowing they need the supplemental food from schools) to act in advance? To be even a little pro-active...just a little?

The article goes on:
"...about 43,000 children are eligible for free or reduced-price lunches. Some also get breakfast, dinner and bags of staple foods to take home for the weekend."
Okay, I can buy the fact that poverty in America is worse that most would like to admit. But to say that kids and by extension, families, will go hungry because the schools are closed is almost unbelievable...I said almost.

So, lets ask a few questions...
  • What do you do when a kid is sick and stays home from school? No school, no eat. Right? 
  • There is no mention of routine absentee rates or drop out rates in the schools. A quick Google search indicates that, if you're not going to school you're not eating...there must be a lot of hungry kids. Even before the snow storm hit. 
  • How about this...What the heck do these kids do during school breaks and summer vacation!?
I'm sure to get some interesting emails on this story, so let me be sure to state some level of understanding that this storm would be equal to an earthquake occurring here in Rochester, NY. It's simply not an eventuality we worry about...just like 30+ inches of snow is not on the top list of threats in the State of Maryland. Yet, I have to wonder why a predicted snow storm can close a major, well funded, well outfitted city, like Washington, D.C., for two weeks...shouldn't we be able to recover a little better?

I also wonder what will happen when the money dries up and the public assistance goes away? Where would this go if it were a prolonged (months, not weeks) worth of natural disaster...Haiti style. But that can't happen here. What all this leads me to is an in-your-face reminder about the population living on the edge here in the most prosperous nation in the world. It's also a reminder that the Ripple Effect of a situation can be just as bad, if not more devastating that the original catalyst event.

When it comes to domestic preparedness in this country, we should point to the map and say "lets pretend this is a country in need of our assistance..."

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