By Elizabeth Lindquist
A close examination of U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger’s views on the issues of importance to the citizens of the 16th District raises some troubling questions. One of those questions is why does Kinzinger join U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and U.S. Rep. Todd Akin, R-Mo., in voting to stop children from having an adequate amount of food so they can learn?
A recent study released by the Center for American Progress reported that more than 22 percent of U.S. children lived in poverty in 2010. An examination of school report cards from 14 different school districts in the 16th Congressional District shows that nearly half of the children in the district qualify as living in poverty, 48.6 percent.
Numerous studies give detailed support to the fact that children who are food insecure or students of all ages who come to school hungry have difficulty learning. A survey of kindergarten through eighth-grade teachers by Share Our Strength, a nonprofit dedicated to ending hunger, found 6 in 10 of those teachers interviewed say “students regularly came to school hungry because they are not getting enough to eat at home.” The survey also indicated that “a majority of the teachers who see hunger as a problem believe that the problem is growing.” The report quotes a teacher in the Midwest as saying, “The saddest are the children who cry when we get out early for a snow day because they won’t get lunch.”
Now enter Kinzinger, Ryan and Akin, who propose massive cuts to food assistance programs. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities states that the Ryan Plan, which Kinzinger and Akin voted for, “includes cuts in SNAP (formerly known as the food stamp program) of $133.5 billion, more than 17 percent, over the next 10 years (2013-2022), which would necessitate ending assistance for millions of low-income families, cutting benefits for millions of such households, or a combination of the two.”
The now-infamous Akin, a supporter of Ryan’s budget, and a representative with whom Kinzinger has voted the same on issues more than1,200 times, went so far as to say recently that the federal government should stop financing the National School Lunch Program altogether. This program provided nutritionally-balanced, low-cost or free lunches to more than 31 million children last year in more than 100,000 public schools each day in 2011.
When food is essential for our children to ensure their ability to learn, why would Rep. Kinzinger be voting to take food out of their mouths?
When or if you are lucky enough to even see Rep. Kinzinger this campaign season, ask him why he wants the hungry children of the 16th Congressional District, nearly half of all the school-age children living in the district, to go to school hungry.
Elizabeth Lindquist is a member of Rockford MoveOn Council and a resident of Roscoe.
From the Oct. 24-30, 2012, issue