I recently read about L.D. 1684, which would bar schools from denying meals to students who can’t pay, and I view the bill as an encouraging step toward guaranteeing all children nutritious food during school hours.

As an educator, I have seen firsthand that hungry and stressed children struggle to learn and grow. However, the roots of the problem are neither greedy bureaucrats nor lazy parents. Nor is it limited to public school students.

The problem is the capitalist system. Capitalism, or the private ownership of major industries like agriculture, has produced a shameful amount of poverty, especially among children. It also guarantees $20 billion a year in subsidies for big, wealthy farmers.

Because of this, we must follow through on our commitment to ending hunger and guarantee that all people have the right to sufficient food, not just school children during school hours. Of course, this can only be accomplished by recognizing food as a human right.

As it stands, we are getting a raw deal: Corporate farms produce cheap corn and soybeans with massive subsidies, yet our local school districts struggle to guarantee that all children have sufficient food to learn and grow. The profit motive is the primary reason. Socialists believe that the solution is to transfer ownership of large industrial farms to the workers who now suffer horrendous conditions, including low pay. Cooperatively owned, these farms will raise their own wages and eliminate the massive profits that we are subsidizing with little gain.

By also shifting subsidies toward nutritious food grown and picked by worker-owned cooperatives, we can guarantee that all people have the healthy and tasty food that we need. Food shaming can only truly end if food is produced for the benefit of society, not as a means of making a profit.

Tom MacMillan

Portland