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The Appalachian

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The Appalachian

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Hunger rates highlight NC shortfalls

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The Appalachian Online

North Carolina has finally made it onto a top-5 list! Gone are the days of being at the bottom of the food chain. Actually – ironically – North Carolina has the fifth-highest rate of hunger among adults and children, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Not as positive as it first sounded.

The study showed that most of those struggling with hunger in the state were seniors, children and both retired and active duty military. Most reported having to decide between food, medical needs, utilities or education.

Should this come as a surprise? No.

North Carolina seems to be a state dead-set on starving its residents – literally and figuratively. Resources are dwindling and budgets are being dismantled and improperly reassembled.

We have seen our legislators deny Medicaid expansion, gut education spending, cut taxes on those who can give the most and increase the cost of school for those who are already struggling to afford it. Teachers got a pay raise – well, not the veteran teachers.

Why?

The more citizens a state has living in poverty or with a lack of sufficient resources, the more aid the state receives from the federal government. It’s like welfare for the states.

But welfare is a dirty word in politics these days. It suggests laziness, inadequacy, irresponsibility, lower class and burdensome. If someone is receiving welfare, they’re putting a strain on the already tight budget.

Here is the truth about welfare recipients: they’re families, grandparents, parents and children. Some used to be wealthy and some only dream of financial security. Jail has become a refuge for those living on the streets and unable to afford basic medical needs.

The call is simple, but the response is politically and ideologically polarized.

To refuse Medicaid is to jeopardize health. To cut education funding and increase educational expectations is fatal to the future. To stigmatize and restrict those in need of physical and mental health care, food, shelter and a positive outlook on life is a shot in our own foot.

We can’t continue in this downward direction. It isn’t about being good Christians or belonging to one political ideology or another. It’s about being human.

Re-humanize those in need. It could be us one day – or maybe it already is.

Mullis, a senior criminal justice major from Wallburg, is an opinion writer.

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