The poor may always be among us, but I and everyone else living in well-fed comfort have to do and spend more.
The state, meantime, needs to be its own watchdog on frivolous, even damaging legislation such as the federal land grab that would cost millions and still most assuredly fail. Imagine spending $3 million or $4 million not on a futile legal battle but on food and health care for suffering kids.
Voices for Utah Children, a Salt Lake City-based nonprofit, says kids who live in persistent poverty are more likely to get sick and be hospitalized. Hunger often leads to developmental delays. Students can't keep up in class if they lack a stable home and regular meals.
This is a state that, incongruously at odds with its stated love for children, has the nation's lowest per-pupil spending in its public schools. Young people with an incomplete education won't be working at jobs that pay a decent wage and offer affordable health insurance.
Government offers public assistance such as food stamps, Medicaid, the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and help with finding jobs. But federal and state programs cannot be the only solution. Cities and counties shoulder a lot of responsibility for their residents. Scouts girls and boys distribute grocery bags for donations.
For men and women, early and affordable education that leads to high school and post-secondary certificates and degrees, and thus jobs, can help prevent dropping out, having babies young and inching toward intergenerational deprivation.
All this is a reminder to myself that I, as well as you, have to do more. Pack more grocery bags, donate more to reputable agencies, drop a dollar or two into a street person's hand.
And never forget that, but for chance and good fortune, any one of the people who suffer from hunger and homelessness could have been you or me.
Peg McEntee can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, facebook.com/pegmcentee .