Guest column: How things should be

Facebook has made me aware of a question: Why is there always money for war and not for education? The Costs of War projects from Brown University said the total cost of wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan was at least $3.2 trillion. The Defense Department’s direct spending on Iraq was at least $757.8 billion.

One trillion is too large a number to grasp, but I understand a billion dollars - it is 1,000 million dollars. If this money were given to the 10 states strapped for education funding, each would get $100 million. Can you imagine what that would do to improve education for Idaho’s children?

Our national debt is large, but Congress somehow finds money when it is related to the military. The current Congress is also eager to find ways to cut funding for programs which are not directly beneficial to corporations. For example, House Republicans have proposed an agriculture budget bill that will allow schools to opt out of healthy school lunch program if they are losing money.

A healthy diet is essential for children to make them fit, guide them toward good health habits and give them enough brainpower for learning. One cannot learn with a hungry stomach and weak body. Healthy habits at an early age will produce healthy citizens and reduce medical costs for the nation later.

Thirty-one million children qualify for the federally subsidized meals, originally established in 1946. The nutrition bill for the free or reduced price school lunch program was established in 2010 to combat rising childhood obesity; it included a reduction in sodium and a requirement that each student choose one fruit or vegetable to get the meal for free.

Because of our addiction to fast and processed food, many children do not like to eat fruits and vegetables. So it has been difficult to carry out a healthy lunch program, resulting in food waste and decline in revenue in almost half of school meal programs.

Discarding nutritional requirements, which would be an easy way out, will be a step backward, allowing schools to serve unhealthy food to children.

America stands for innovation, not giving up. I suggest we develop a nutritious lunch program that kids will eat. Congress could provide a little funding to hire the best chefs in the country and commission them to create a nutritious lunch program.

There will be an immediate cry from Republicans because this would add to the national debt. They could consider this a war against malnutrition; Congress can then approve the funding needed to make future generations healthy. Otherwise, a penny saved will become dollars lost when we have to spend for the medical bills of millions of unhealthy citizens in the future.

Majumdar is a physicist and writer who lives in Idaho Falls. His latest children’s book, “Viku and the Ivory Thieves,” third in the series of Viku adventure stories from the forests of India, is published by Bo-Tree House.

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