Hunger, homelessness need solving

Published 11:31am Thursday, November 21, 2013

How do we solve a problem that plagues such a large portion of our area?

Hunger and homelessness is, without a doubt, the most significant problem in Dallas County.

Some estimates of poverty in Selma reach 40 percent of the total population, but hunger is more difficult to measure.

How do you measure the last time someone consumed a hearty, home-cooked, healthy meal?

It’s impossible. The stigma is too high and many are afraid to admit that they are struggling to maintain a full stomach.

Hunger and homelessness are highlighted across the nation this week, as the National Coalition for the Homeless is holding National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week — Nov. 16 to 24.

Unfortunately, no events are scheduled in Selma, but plenty of charities already work to fight our greatest problem.

The Edmundite Missions are a great example. The Catholic charity runs the Bosco Nutrition Center, which provides thousands of meals each week to the homeless and hungry in Selma.

A recent donations appeal from the Edmundite Missions stated, “The city of Selma is starving! Homelessness, crime and disease plague the city but they are all cause by severe poverty. (Mothers’) children beg them for food and cry themselves to sleep with aching tummies. The working poor tell me they pray they will be able to work hard the next day without dizziness from lack of food.”

With the poverty level at such a high rate in the city, it’s hard for the well-off Selma residents to fill the need that exists.

If we truly care and honestly want to improve our community, we should make sure that the least in our community receive enough food to survive.

But food is only part of the equation. Children are our only hope if we plan to improve Dallas County.

A study, released Wednesday, by VOICE For Alabama Children found that 6,441 children in Dallas County live in poverty. That’s 15 percent of our total population.

Making sure children are adequately fed is important, but we also need an education system that’s worthy of praise.

It’s not simply about raising a graduation rate. A 3.5 GPA in the Selma City School System surely isn’t identical to a 3.5 in other parts of the country. It’s more critical that school teach skills that can be applied in the real world.

Early education is just as important. Doing small things, like asking your child an apple’s color, helps a developing brain.

A focus on improving education in Dallas County will, in turn, bring quality jobs to the area. Employers want educated employees and a well-paying job means more money in the pockets of Dallas County residents.

Money doesn’t cure all ills, but it certainly buys groceries.

If we want to solve the biggest problem in Dallas County, we need to make a long-term investment in our youth by improving every facet of education.



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