I wish I had a dollar for every time a well-meaning friend or supporter has said “No one could be against feeding hungry kids.” It’s true but fails to address the real issue which is that while everyone is for feeding a hungry child, not everyone is for helping to prevent a child from being hungry in the first place. The latter would be more cost effective, but takes more than food, and gets politically complicated.
That may be beginning to change. Here’s some good news: childhood hunger is not the only issue that generates bipartisan support. Early childhood education is another. Our colleagues at Save The Children, and their sister organization, Save The Children Action Network led by Mark Shriver, last week released new public opinion research from five battleground states showing extraordinary levels of bipartisan support for investing in pre-K. @ http://thehill.com/opinion/op-ed/253162-early-education-could-be-key-to-winning-campaigns
87% of Republicans, 94% of Democrats, and 89% of Independents agree that the years 0-5 are important for the learning and development of a child. And 63% believe that public education should start at the age of 4 and be offered for free to all children. The researchers assert: “For voters, the importance of investing in early childhood and allocating tax dollars to our youngest learners is a settled issue. The next step is harnessing the political will to make expanding access and improving quality a reality.”
This bi-partisan support is similar to what we’ve found for our No Kid Hungry campaign, which itself has such critical impact on a child being ready to learn. Childhood hunger and early learning may be logical companion issues worthy of joint effort. School meals are one vital way of ensuring that children are ready to learn and succeed, but only one. Kids need more.
The new polling shows a common sense commitment to invest for the future and willingness to sacrifice if necessary to do so. “Sacrifice” is not a word you’ll hear from any of the 2016 presidential candidates. It was last used by Jimmy Carter in the late 1970’s and hasn’t been even whispered since. So once again, citizens and nonprofits must lead, and wait for the politicians to follow.