By Contributor on November 23, 2011

By Frank McKissack, Jr.Here is the fabled Thanksgiving image: The extended family gathers around a roasted turkey set on a table of assorted vegetables and starches, gravy boat at the ready, glasses filled with refreshing beverages. Father leads the family in a prayer. “Dear Lord,” Dad says in a somber tone, “please aid those people, particularly children, around the world who are hungry so that they might know your love and bounty.”Today, many of those hungry children are right here at home.According to World Hunger Education Service, 14.5 percent of American households in 2010 could be classified as “food insecure,” the highest ever recorded in the United States since the government began gathering this statistic in 1995. (The government defines “food insecurity” as the “limited or uncertain availability of nutritionally adequate and safe foods or limited or uncertain ability to acquire acceptable foods in socially acceptable ways.” It shies away from the word “hunger,” but semantic niceties do not fill a stomach any better than using the word that best describes the condition.)Last year, more than 16 million children lived in food-insecure households. Twenty percent or more of the child population in 40 states and the District of Columbia lived in food-insecure household. The highest were D.C. and Oregon, both with more than 30 percent of their child population going underfed or unfed more times than imaginable in a country that sees itself as the Shining City on the Hill.We are at the precipice of creating Generation Hungry.There is a mountain of evidence that underfed and malnourished children do more poorly in school and are less likely to achieve academically.Even the most callous person can see the damage the spiraling rate of hungry children will have on this country. To remain competitive in the global marketplace, the United States can ill afford to see so many children hampered by a lack of food.In giving thanks for what we have, we need to commit ourselves to the principle that no child should go hungry in the land of plenty.Fred McKissack is a former Progressive magazine editor and editorial writer who lives in Fort Wayne, Ind. He can be reached at pmproj@progressive.org.You can read more pieces from The Progressive Media Project by clicking here.

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By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.


Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

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