- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 18, 2017

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Rova and Jiana are both 5, yet one stands practically head and shoulders above the other.

See, they are malnourished and live in Madagascar, where dancing lemurs singing “I want to move it” breeds a familiar visual for American moviegoers.

Like their counterparts in Madagascar, children in Israel are hungry too. In fact, two in five Israeli children lay down their heads at night undernourished, and one in five senior citizens does the same. Older folks often have to choose between eating a meal and paying for medication.

In the United States, children starving in post-hurricane Vieques, Puerto Rico, aren’t debating whether they want a taco, paella or arroz tripleta. Chef and humanitarian extraordinaire Jose Andres, a native of Spain, is on the scene. He’s piling high aluminum serving pans with nutritious food to feed Puerto Rico, where hot food and drinking water are as scarce as gasoline and electricity.

Human hunger is no game.

The U.N. World Food Program estimates that 815 million people around the globe can’t get their hands on enough food to sustain themselves. Of those millions, 489 million live in nations with civil wars and other ongoing violence.

Also, 155 million children are chronically malnourished, and most of them, 122 million, live amid conflict.

That so many of these people are refugees is no surprise. We’ve seen the photos and read the headlines in recent years of dads fleeing their homelands with their children on their shoulders. Of moms fleeing with younger and older generations clutching personal belongings. Of lives lost at sea because the refugees’ watercraft capsized.

We can do better.

We’ve got to do better.

Even here is the continental United States, eating three square meals on a daily basis is a luxury — with nearly 49 million Americans, including 13 million children, lacking the means to get enough nutritious food.

This in the very United States with its generous food programs, which include free meals at public schools, free meals during the summer, grants to soup kitchens and food pantries, and such federal programs as food stamps and the Women’s, Infant and Children voucher program.

Right now America is in Halloween mode. As soon as the bewitching mood passes, though, we flip the switch to the annual feed bag ritual called Thanksgiving.

“Who’s cooking the turkey?” “Who’s playing Dallas?” “Who’s bringing the libations?”

Rova, Jiana and other starving children around the globe haven’t the slightest idea who or what Dallas is, and having regular access to such libations as milk and clean drinking water would likely put smiles on their and their parents’ faces.

So don’t wait ‘til the turkey (or tofu turkey) is on the table. Give thanks now.

Be thankful for the bounty you and yours have been blessed with, and then take action to help someone — someone you know or someone you don’t know.

In America, $20 won’t cover a Thanksgiving spread in Any Major City, USA. Heck, it would barely cover the price of a turkey.

However, $20 would go a long way toward putting food and water in the mouths of the hungry and the malnourished — wherever they are.

Deborah Simmons can be contacted at [email protected]

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