Requests for help – from people needing food, or cash to pay their rent or utilities – are on the rise in our community, and Great Bend is not alone. Locally, we know that our Barton County Emergency Aid Association and Food Bank, Catholic Social Service and others have seen an increase in requests.
Low-income households can get food stamps from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), administered by the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture. But cutbacks have reduced who is eligible for this help. That means families with small children may lose assistance that could help them provide nutritious food.
We see other cutbacks at a time of increasing need. Cutbacks in education funding continued while schools waited for a Kansas Supreme Court ruling to force the Legislature – people we elected to represent our best interests – to do the right thing. Even now, lawmakers seem more intent on attacking teachers and course content than on helping children.
Elsewhere in the news, we see the number of children needing early childhood education services – such as those offered by Sunflower Diversified Services – is increasing. Since the number of births is exceeding the number of deaths in our state, perhaps that’s to be expected.
Rarely do taxpayers want to see their tax bills increase. But here in Great Bend, voters overwhelmingly approved renewing a sales tax, because they saw its benefits, which include better streets, a better equipped fire department, economic development, and even a reduction in property taxes. We make an investment here, and reap the profits there.
The same thing happens when we take steps to make sure children have adequate food, safe homes, good schools, and early intervention if they have a problem with development. Addressing the needs early pays off.
Far from becoming a socialist “nanny state,” providing funding where it is needed can work in our own self-interest. The kids we help today will be in charge of use in our old age.