Thoughts on Uvalde
Everyday I focus my time and energy on how we best ensure everyone, especially children, have access to healthy food. Beyond the physical need we all have for food, I think about the socioemotional role food plays in our lives. For me, personally, I think about the meals I cooked for my mom as a 11- and 12-year-old as a salve to our broken hearts after my dad suddenly passed away. I think about my struggle with depression and how the self-care of buying, cooking, and eating food is how I slowly crawled out of the deep dark hole I was in. I think about the satisfaction when I see my toddler eat and heartily enjoy a plate of food that I lovingly made for him. Food security is the wonky term for not facing hunger, but there is something poetic about security. Food, at it is best, nourishes our minds as well as our souls. Food security is foundational if we want our neighbors and children to live full rich lives, be able to learn or work to their full potential and thrive as human beings.
Last night, I gave my son extra kisses, said good night, and let the despair and rage consume me as I read news about the murder of 19 children and 2 adults at Robb Elementary in Uvalde, Texas. This morning I continue to have the same question “what the fuck are we doing”? Robb Elementary School is a Community Eligibility Provision school, this means the community was recognized as high enough need that they were able to serve every child free school meals. This is unequivocally good. But this morning it’s hard to shake the feeling that all this good is quickly undone because a single person can make all this moot. That person bears responsibility, yes, but these actions were made possible because too many people prioritize wealth and power over the lives of these children.
The actions of an individual with a gun are much starker than the thousands of policy actions or inactions that lead to Columbine to Sandy Hook, to Stoneham Douglas, to Santa Fe, and now to Robb Elementary, but these actions or inactions are our collective responsibility. The problem is that the people who hold power see these children as other people’s children and not worth losing economic or political capital over.
Make no mistake, this lack of empathy is why we let people die at the end of a gun, but also why we let people die by the million little cuts of poverty and hunger.
This morning, I will get back to work trying to ensure every Massachusetts child can continue to receive a school meal if they need or want it next year. I do this with a heavy heart, but renewed resolve. Every one of those children at Robb Elementary deserves to be able to live, learn, and thrive. All of us have the responsibility to make sure they are safe and secure. No one should fear dying quickly in a horrendous shooting or slowly through the callousness that allows people to perish because our society fails to provide resources to poor people and people of color.
Whether it is a majority Latino community like Uvalde or a largely white community like Newtown, Connecticut, these are all children that deserve to live long, healthy, happy lives. We need to demand those in power use that power to make this a reality or find a new profession.