Yesterday in this space I paid a bit of homage to Jon and Dorothea Bon Jovi, a pair of humanitarians who have started two "pay-it-forward" restaurants in New Jersey with the intent of feeding the hungry and offering a restaurant experience to people who would otherwise seldom (if ever) have the opportunity to dine out.
Today, using poetry as a platform, I would like to continue exploring the impact that hunger has on our country, a nation which many believe is one of the better-fed places on earth. Many of us here in the United States eat very well, but that does not mean that hunger within our borders is not a serious impediment to the health and lives of many of our fellow citizens.
Here are just a few facts that I gleaned from an internet search regarding "food insecurity" in the United States. Overall it appears that about one in seven Americans is impacted by hunger on a more-or-less regular basis.
Between 2012 and 2014 the national average for food insecurity among all Americans was 14.3 percent. During those same years, fourteen states exhibited statistically significant higher household food insecurity rates than than national average. That roll of shame includes:
Mississippi (22%), Arkansas (land of the Walton billionaires) (19.9%), Louisiana (17.6%), Kentucky (17.5%), Texas (17.2%), Ohio (16.9%), Alabama (16.8%), MISSOURI (16.8%), North Carolina (16.7%), Oklahoma (16.5%), Tennessee (16.3%), Maine (16.2), Oregon (16.1%) and Kansas (15.9%).
(My home state of Missouri had the double indignity of not only making the list, but also of tying Alabama!)
Here, to memorialize this national disgrace, is a poem by the late British poet Robert Laurence Binyon, entitled simply "Hunger," which personifies the quiet and determined killer. May heroic patriots like the Bon Jovi's eventually put an end to his persistent reign of pain, suffering, and death.
by Robert Laurence Binyon
I sit down by each man's side.
None sees me, but they look on one another,
And know that I am there.
My silence is like the silence of the tide
That buries the playground of children;
Like the deepening of frost in the slow night,
When birds are dead in the morning.
Armies trample, invade, destroy,
With guns roaring from earth and air.
I am more terrible than armies,
I am more feared than the cannon.
Kings and chancellors give commands;
I give no command to any;
But I am listened to more than kings
And more than passionate orators.
I unswear words, and undo deeds.
Naked things know me.
I am first and last to be felt of the living.
I am Hunger