Investment key to addressing needs

Published 12:00 am Thursday, February 28, 2008

Sen. Hillary Clinton’s visit to Hanging Rock today is not just an ordinary stop along the campaign trail.

Ohio University Southern’s Child Development Center is a strategic location because that is where the Democratic presidential hopeful will unveil a collection of proposals aimed at expanding childhood education, improving children’s nutrition and reducing the amount of children living in poverty.

The plan, according to information released to the Associated Press, includes:

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4An early education initiative that starts with nurse’s visits for pregnant women, allows children to enter Head Start programs earlier and calls for universal pre-kindergarten programs.

4Directing the agriculture secretary to develop a plan to end childhood hunger, primarily through more participation in the food stamp program and expansion of those benefits.

4School breakfast programs would be universal in low-income neighborhoods and Clinton says she would double the size of summer nutrition programs that would feed low-income children when they are in school.

4An effort to eliminate junk foods from schools by requiring schools that receive federal funding through the school lunch or breakfast programs offer only USDA-approved foods.

These are certainly programs that would benefit the counties in Ohio’s Appalachian region and it comes with a price tag of $5 billion to $6 billion. Clinton said it will be funded by more vigorous efforts to collect unpaid taxes.

That funding mechanism is unpredictable and arguably flimsy, but programs such as these are at least investments into young people living in poverty, which is attractive to this region of Ohio.

Federal and state programs that bring investment to poor areas, like Ohio’s Appalachian region, are necessary to break the cycle of poverty.