Another day, another pious pronouncement from a powerful North Carolina politician about a terrible social ill that his own policies help to make worse on a daily basis. The latest (and recurring) issue: hunger.
Yesterday, the Governor’s office released a statement in which it said the Gov. McCrory and his wife would be observing “Hunger Action Month.” This is from the statement:
“Governor Pat McCrory and First Lady Ann McCrory are observing Hunger Action Month by lighting the Executive Mansion in Raleigh and the Western Residence in Asheville orange tonight.
‘We remain committed to connecting families with jobs, education, health care and opportunities to help combat the critical issue of hunger in our state,’ Governor McCrory said. ‘Ann and I encourage all citizens to join us this month in raising awareness about the need to end hunger in North Carolina.’”
Action, huh? It sure isn’t evident if you consider, among other things, the Governor’s decision in 2015 to sign House Bill 318 — a multifaceted attack on vulnerable people that slashed food assistance for more than 100,000 people in need with the supposed objective of incentivizing them to “get a job.” As we noted at the time:
“Obviously, the central problem with this approach is that it ignores common sense and the reality on the ground. Simply put, 100,000 North Carolinians aren’t sitting around not looking for work because they can get a few bucks per week [around $30] to buy a little bit of food. If there were jobs available – even lousy, part-time jobs – these people would obviously be much better off working than merely receiving SNAP benefits. (And if a few hundred people were somehow milking the system for such a pathetic benefit, all one can say is ‘God forbid!’)”
The bottom line: Maybe anti-hunger advocates need to move Hunger Awareness Month to the spring or summer when the General Assembly is actually in session so that state leaders will be forced to confront the stunning disconnect between their words and deeds more directly. Unfortunately, given the record of recent years, even blatant shaming of this kind seems likely to be ineffective.