Severe cuts to SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) benefits for families and children, right now in early 2023, from over $230 per month down to $23 per month, not only impoverishes each family directly facing these post-pandemic decreases, but also significantly impoverishes our communities and society at large. As a couples therapist and family systems therapy provider, I see largely increased worries and anxiety for parents and families now faced with how to feed and nourish their vulnerable children, and it’s the children, our next generation, who suffer and pay the price. When they do, so do we all.
We are all in relationships with each other, whether we see it or not, connected to and dependent on, children as future adults supporting us all in every way, as our future leaders, future work force and community members. Today’s children are our future teachers, entrepreneurs, engineers, vice-presidents, presidents, artists, judges, doctors, nurses, lawyers, next door neighbors, postal workers, delivery workers, business owners, business workers, secretaries, receptionists, restaurant servers, scientists, professionals, workers in all vocations, including support staff workers who provide services in our communities with their bodies, minds, hearts, souls, and spirits. When our children/future adults suffer from a lack of nourishment physically, mentally and emotionally, it negatively affects brain development, optimal learning, problem-solving, imagination and creativity.
Children worry about their parents when they are stressed by problems so basic as providing food for the table, and therefore, are much less likely to focus on play. Play helps healthy development in children. You’ve likely heard the phrase “play is children’s work.” Play is how children grow their ability to discover, imagine, learn, solve problems, and figure out what interests them, again and again and again.
Parents need money, time, and resources to create opportunities for their children, instead of constantly and chronically focusing on where and how to find food and healthy nourishing food. Children/future adults require and deserve developed, rich imaginations in order to create the experiences and provide the services you and I enjoy every day. So, ultimately, we are all the recipients of the experiences provided by our community’s children, future adults who either are, or are not, the recipients of access to nourishing, healthy food.
Decades of research underscores the basic fact that children’s bodies and brains need to be supported and sustained with healthy food and by happy, lesser-stressed parents so they may thrive physically, mentally, energetically, emotionally and spiritually. We likely all agree that good, delicious and healthy food is one of life’s greatest joys. Every single human deserves access to that simple pleasure. Deliberately changing policy and denying such access, in one of the richest countries in the world, can only be seen as an act of cruelty. It diminishes the importance of our interdependent relationships, reliance on each other over time, and highlights the lack of understanding about how families, communities, societies, cities, states and countries function. There is no doubt that feeding our children feeds us all.