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Efforts continue to quell the backlash over President Donald Trump’s changing statements on the Russia summit. Also on the Thursday rundown: protestors are out for Mike Pence’s visit to Missouri; and nobody wants to go, but one option is green burials.

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Groups to Congress: Funding School Meals Equals Feeding the Future

Thousands of Missouri families still struggle to put food on the table, and advocates fear potential cuts to child nutrition programs will exacerbate the issue. Credit: Gleangenie/Morguefile
Thousands of Missouri families still struggle to put food on the table, and advocates fear potential cuts to child nutrition programs will exacerbate the issue. Credit: Gleangenie/Morguefile
June 8, 2015

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – As Missouri begins to turn the corner on the recession, those who work with anti-hunger programs are calling on Congress to maintain funding for programs that fill critical meal gaps for families statewide.

According to Heather Hardinger with Ozarks Food Harvest, her organization served more than 90,000 summer meals and 43,000 snacks to food insecure children last summer. She says contrary to what many believe, many of those who count on federally-funded programs for school breakfasts, lunches and summer meals are working families.

"Maybe it's a two-parent household where they both work," says Hardinger, "but their bill level is so high they just don't have enough to afford to pay for food. We also have folks who are maybe in a temporary situation, where they've been having a hard time finding that meaningful employment."

Hardinger says any cuts to the federal Child Nutrition Act, which is the umbrella for those programs, would be devastating to the slow progress the state is making against childhood hunger. Congress is expected to debate the various portions of the act in the coming months, as the current law is set to expire at the end of September.

Glenn Koenen heads up the Empower Missouri hunger task force. He says fighting hunger is much like a three-legged stool, with the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, more commonly known as food stamps, being the largest piece. According to Koenen, the Child Nutrition Act is the second leg, and food pantries and nonprofits are the third.

"With those three legs, we can do a lot to lessen hunger in this country," he says. "We can control the problem, and we can make sure most families get what they need if we have this balanced approach."

Koenen says his main hope is that the health of the next generation doesn't get lost in the political shuffle.

"We're making an investment in our kids, keeping them healthy, so they do well in school and well in life," says Koenen. "And in this country, there's no excuse for us not to have healthy kids."

Mona Shand, Public News Service - MO