The Misappropriation of Maryland Day

Maryland Day is a public holiday in the State of Maryland. It should honestly be a bigger deal than it really is, given our state’s proud, interesting, and unique history. Because 381 years ago on March 25th, the Ark and the Dove landed at St. Clement’s Island, the first settlers in the newly chartered Colony of Maryland. It’s also the day in which the first Catholic Mass was celebrated in the Colonies, too.

While Maryland has a rich and colorful history, that won’t stop interest groups from misappropriating the day to serve their own political interests. An outfit named Maryland Hunger Solutions is doing just that:

On Wednesday, March 25, 2015, join the thousands of Marylanders who will crunch an apple together to spread the word that every child in Maryland should have access to a healthy breakfast. Click here to see who participated in Hear the Maryland Crunch and read quotes from our supporters.

This is not the first year that Maryland Hunger Solutions has decided to crunch apples for a cause, but this year their plea is more timely. On Thursday, the House Ways and Means Committee will be taking up SB334, a bill that which is determined to help adjust calculations for enrollees schools that participate in the federal community eligibility program for school meals. Basically, the bill is designed to obtain more federal money for free breakfasts.

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So what’s gonna happen tomorrow basically looks like this:

How crunching an apple is going to talk about access to a healthy breakfast is beyond me. Last year a bunch of left-wingers got behind the cause and crunched an apple, but childhood hunger and access to healthy breakfasts still remains a problem, despite the number of crunched apples.

This of course isn’t to say that fighting childhood hunger is not important. Support for ending it is bipartisan: SB334 passed 47-0 in the Senate, and even Governor Hogan has issued a proclamation in support of ending childhood hunger.

But the idea of using gimmicks like this to appropriate a state holiday to serve a partisan political purpose is unbecoming. And it *is* a partisan political purpose. Just take a look at Maryland Hunger Solutions and their strategy:

Maryland Hunger Solutions uses a three-pronged strategy to overcome barriers and create self-sustaining connections between Maryland residents and nutritious foods. Maryland Hunger Solutions works with state and community partners to seek to:

  • Maximize participation in all federal nutrition programs through a combination of removal of obstacles to participation, close work with social service agencies and outreach.
  • Educate the public and key stakeholders both to the stark reality of hunger’s existence in Maryland and to solutions that are already at hand.
  • Improve public policies to end hunger, reduce poverty, and promote nutrition.

Unfortunately most of their work seems to be on point 1 rater than points 2 and 3. Most of the high profile work that the organization has done is to increase federal food assistance programs. At no point do they seem particularly interested in solving the root causes of hunger. Nor are they particularly concerned with legitimate ways to reduce poverty, such as more jobs, more economic development, and lower taxes. And there seems to be little emphasis on private-sector engagement to tackle hunger issues, particularly through reducing barriers to churches and non-profit organizations providing food service to the hungry, and the improvement of Maryland’s economic climate in order to stimulate charitable giving.

Ending hunger is a good cause, and one that all of us have a moral obligation to strive for. But misappropriating Maryland Day to score political points does a disservice to their cause and ignores the amazing 381-year history of our state.

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