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Before they were 'mine', my children knew all about hunger as a fact of life. That was on another continent, however, and the poorest one on Earth at that. Given my understanding of what they went through and the long-term effect it had, I feel desperate over the fact that food assistance in America is being cut so cruelly for no good reason whatsoever. Paul Ryan, Ted Yoho and the others behind these cuts are either pathetically stupid or just plain evil. Hunger will prompt people to get jobs? Make children study harder in school? Forget the fact that most people receiving food assistance are truly vulnerable, when you don't have enough to eat, your ENTIRE LIFE becomes about simply trying to survive. Right up there with breathing, it is the most basic human need on Maslow's hierarchy of needs.

I've lived in countries where people don't have enough to eat. After the initial shock wears off, you start waving good morning to the desperate digging through your trash trying to find scraps to survive. Human beings guilty of nothing but being poor (or, in South Africa, black) are robbed of any shred of dignity and forced to go door to door, day after day, begging for anything they can get. They stand on street corners and walk through cars at stoplights pleading for whatever others are willing to spare. Children are kept out of school because they are more successful at tugging at heartstrings than their desperate parents.

And the children who do make it to school? Without assistance programs, the only thing on their mind IS THAT THEY ARE HUNGRY. Forget going into the effect malnutrition has on the developing brains and immune systems in the long term. When you are hungry, that is really all you care about.

[Full disclosure: The child in this ad is one of mine and had been living with me for several years by the time this ad was made. Before becoming 'mine', however, he knew the all consuming pain of hunger all too well.]

As one of the more fortunate, at first, you try to help everyone who asks. It quickly becomes overwhelming and eventually, unless you have more money than the Koch brothers, you have no choice but to start saying 'no'. The first 10 no's are the hardest. After that, you find yourself starting to resent being asked again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again... Except when you leave the grocery store with full bags and find that you have lost another small part of your soul because you have coldly walked by someone who asked you to please buy them something when you were inside. That is, of course, if you still view the hungry as human. I know far too many people who have subconsciously started to see them as something less.

You live behind high walls, topped with barbed or electric wire to keep yourself safe from the desperate people around you. Crime is a constant worry and you pray your children don't become targets as they walk to school. Bars go over your windows and sliding doors. Forget about leaving anything on an unsecured porch at night.

Developing countries are fighting to reach Millennium Development Goals of halving poverty and ending child hunger while the United States, the richest country on Earth, is doing its best to actually increase the same. It is the most disturbing and disgusting thing I think I have ever seen within our own borders.

I've lived in Africa. I love Africa. Africa is working hard to become more like America. For the life of me, I can't understand why America is trying to achieve the reverse.

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