In this upcoming Colorado statewide election on November 8, El Semanario/The Weekly Issue emphatically endorses and asks for your “Yes” vote for “Proposition FF: Healthy School Meals for All” on the ballot. No city, community, or state can progress and achieve democracy and equality if a significant portion of our children are hungry. Proposition FF advances such ideals especially for the most precious, and vulnerable, members of our community, our children in K-12 including early childhood education.
According to the 2022 State Ballot Information Booklet, Proposition FF will amend Colorado statutes to “create the Healthy School Meals for All program to provide access to free meals for all public school students in Colorado.” It will increase requisite “taxes paid by households with [adjusted gross] incomes of $300,000 or more and by using additional federal funding for school meals.” This past academic year, 2021-2022, school lunches were provided to students paid for, at least in part, by the U.S. Government’s financial support to counter the financial difficulties wrought by the COVID 19 pandemic. We deeply commend and thank, for example, Denver Public Schools for ensuring in every way possible that they provided free meals for all students who so wished, and students could therefore concentrate on their studies, rather than their hunger. Now, in 2022, it is the responsibility of voters to continue such a program.
Surely today in Colorado, we can strive to match such judiciousness, and a “Yes” vote for Proposition FF will lead us on our way.
Proposition FF will allow Colorado schools to create the Healthy School Meals for All program to offer free school breakfasts and lunches “to all public school students, regardless of family income,” as the Booklet states (page 15). Central to the Proposition is the promise to “purchase products grown, raised, and processed in Colorado” for the meals—Colorado grown for Colorado children. It will also increase wages or provide income stipends for employees who prepare and serve the meals. Currently, depending on a family’s income, some children can receive free meals through a combination of Federal and State funding, but other students must pay full price, providing difficulty for some. If Proposition FF passes, the Federal government will continue to provide its share.
Food insecurity is a serious and debilitating issue for some of our Colorado children, which never should have been the case. “Food insecurity” is a term differentiated only slightly from actual “hunger” in its immediacy. As with most social ills, children often suffer from such difficult situations at a higher rate than adults. The Colorado Health Institute indicated in a July 2020 report that in 2019, before the Covid 19 pandemic hit, already “one in 10 Coloradans (9.6%) experienced food insecurity, defined as eating less than they felt they should in the past year because there was not enough money for food” (An Uneven Burden: Food Insecurity in Colorado | Colorado Health Institute).
Further, Black Coloradans, “[p]eople with lower incomes, Hispanic/Latinx Coloradans, and women were also disproportionately affected,” to which we would say, one is too many. Very recent information, October 2021, from Feeding America noted that nearly 99,000 Denverites (out of 725,000 in 2020) could experience hunger (Hunger In Denver: Kids, Minorities Suffered Most In 2020 | Denver, CO Patch). Far from being only or primarily an urban issue, “A quarter of young adults in rural areas (25.4%)… were also disproportionately affected.”
How can any of our children in Colorado and in the U.S. be hungry today, in 2022? It was not always so. Several hundred years ago, and more, Indigenous populations ensured that all members of a society would be well fed. For example, it was customary that “by means of a clan-village system of democracy… Corn, the staple crop, was stored in granaries and distributed equitably in this matrilineal society [by] the oldest women from every extended family,” ensuring plentiful nutrition for all, especially children (“Indigenous People’s History of the U.S.,” Dunbar Ortiz). Surely today in Colorado we can strive to match such judiciousness, and a “Yes” vote for Proposition FF will lead us on our way.
The Weekly Issue/El Semanario Editorial Board
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