If ever there were an election that affirmed our critical role in filling the gaps that result from the failure of economic and political markets, yesterday’s was it. If ever there were an organization poised, prepared, and committed to succeed at that challenge, it is ours.
There will be a lot of sorting out over the next few days and analysis of what the new make-up of the Congress means. The only thing we can be sure of at this stage is that there will be enormous political pressure to shrink government’s role and to focus on cutting the deficit rather than increasing spending.
Just as the financial markets froze two years ago, the political markets will freeze at least for a time. And there has never been much of an economic market for feeding hungry kids. So we will need to do what we do best: step into the breach, try to bridge it, persuade key stakeholders that ending childhood hunger is not a political issue, but more of an education, health, and even national security issue – and help more Americans see how they can share their strength to ensure no kid hungry.
Our state based strategy has never been centered upon massive new federal spending. Rather the focus has been on ensuring full participation and utilization of programs (that while federally funded) have grown for many years with bipartisan support.
Whatever your reaction to the election results, it is worth noting, and is gratifying, that those who championed our No Kid Hungry campaign – Governor Martin O’Malley in Maryland, Governor Mike Beebe in Arkansas, and Colorado Governor Bill Ritter’s successor John Hickenlooper – were elected by comfortable margins.
The election is an unmistakable reminder that we live in a nation deeply divided in many ways. We have the privilege of working on an issue that unites more than it divides. All of our experience, events, and partners are a testament to that fact. We will need to be better at that than ever because the children we serve are not only vulnerable but voiceless and when the markets leave them behind, organizations like Share Our Strength must work even harder to keep them front and center.