LatinaLista — In a nation of over 307 million people, 2.3 million doesn't sound like a very significant number. As a number by itself, it isn't.
Only when it's realized that 2.3 million refers to the number of Hispanic households with children who feel the pangs of hunger because they are "food insecure" does it become a crucial amount.
According to a new report by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Economic Research Service (USDA):
177,000 non-white Hispanic households with children - an almost 50 percent increase over 2007 -- experienced very low food security, meaning that the food intake of one or more of the household children was reduced and their eating patterns were disrupted at times during the year because the household lacked money.
The USDA claims that since they have been collecting data this new statistic marks the largest increase in food security rates among Latino households with children.
While sad, the news isn't shocking given reports that this poor economy is hitting Latinos worse, especially the undocumented.
What is scarier news is that officials with Feeding America believe there are millions more Hispanic families who are going hungry but are not asking for help at the food banks, soup kitchens or emergency feeding centers.
Whether it's because of pride or the fact that it's been drilled into the undocumented population that they cannot take advantage of public services like food banks, even to feed their children, remains to be seen.
In the end, it leaves a critical question to be answered: Given the evidence that we have that more (Latino) children are going hungry, what do we do about it?
If it's a question of pride, hopefully the pleas from their children for more food to be in the house or the observations from an observant neighbor, family member, friend or teacher will make a difference in letting the head of that household know there is no shame in getting assistance to feed your family -- but a bigger disgrace to let children go hungry.
If it's a question of undocumented families going hungry then, perhaps, all the assurances that it's OK to use food bank services will be to no avail. However, the idea that children are going hungry should appall anyone who believes that everyone deserves the right to food.
Since most food banks are faith-based and volunteer-run, the notion that anyone would be asked for their citizenship status is unlikely, but it is a public service that to anyone would seem only reserved for citizens -- NOT SO!
The right to eat is an universal right that knows no boundaries, nor immigration policies nor citizenship status.
To deny food to someone who needs it is a criminal act unto itself -- that violates basic human rights and basic morality.
The message to these families should be made clear, through public service announcements on Spanish-language television and radio and in community newspapers, that if a family doesn't have enough to eat there is food available for them, with no strings attached or immigration agents ready to apprehend them.