So millions of poor kids might be getting marginally better breakfasts and lunches in school while, at the same time, their parents will be less able to provide them with decent dinners at home. And they call it "The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act"?
Let them eat irony?
Not only would a cut in food-stamp benefits run counter to President Obama's goal of ending childhood obesity by 2015, it could make hunger even worse, given the dim prospects for a quick economic recovery. It may also negate Mrs. Obama's laudable efforts to fight the nation's epidemic of childhood obesity if parents are forced to buy cheaper foods that are more "filling" - and also higher in calories.
It's one more alarming example of ripping the guts out of one safety net in order to repair another.
It was bad enough that, faced with a wall of Republican opposition in August, Democrats in Congress took $11.9 billion in stimulus funding from food stamps to pay for emergency aid for states, which saved tens of thousands of teachers' jobs and helped fund states' Medicaid obligations.
NOW, FACING another deadline - and more Republican disagreement in the Senate - House members are under pressure from the White House to raid food-stamp funding again, rather than even consider a much better House bill on child nutrition.
The use of food-stamp funding to plug budget holes apparently comes from a bizarre notion that a $19.9 billion temporary increase in food-stamp benefits that were part of the 2009 economic recovery legislation turned out to be too generous - since food-cost increases were less than anticipated.
But here's something to chew on: At $4.50 a person per day, food-stamp benefits aren't in any way adequate, even with the temporary increase. (Send us your recipes for healthy, nutritious $1.50 meals.)
Only the very poorest Americans get food stamps: 81 percent have incomes at or below the poverty line of $22,050 for a family of four - and 41 percent have incomes at half that or less.
Food stamps are critical to the health of America's most vulnerable citizens: About half go to children (681,497 in Pennsylvania, estimates the Food Research Action Center, an anti-hunger advocacy group) and 10 percent go to seniors. No wonder 1,600 anti-hunger organizations - not to mention New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg - are urging Congress to find another way to pay for it.
Here's where you come in: Urge your representative in Congress to support child-nutrition legislation that doesn't starve Peter to feed Paul.