By now you’ve heard plenty about Medicare sequestration cuts. But you might not realize it seems that some projects not only survived the cuts, but they are getting money for projects while more important ones are slashed.

Get this: Yale University has received a grant for $384,949 to study the sexual behavior and anatomy of ducks. Yes, you heard that right.

Apparently it’s more important to study the “dinky” on a duck than feed our nation’s children and older adults! One in four children doesn’t know where their next meal is coming from. 17 million children already live in households defined by the federal government as “food insecure,” which means they go hungry. 

The sequester has aggravated a shortage in funding for federal food assistance programs, including child nutrition programs. Lawmakers are slashing these nutrition programs when they are needed most.  Our nation’s president pledged to end child hunger in America by 2015. Our Congress should help him do that instead of cutting him off at the knees.

There has to be a way to protect our most vulnerable citizens while fixing this budget. You don’t just cut money across the board without considering the real consequences (while holding obscene fundraising dinners where the food waste would feed hundreds of families for weeks!).

Those who state they support these across-the-board cuts to reduce “waste” should see what I have seen: kids who ration their school lunches so they can feed their families that evening; kids who come into schools on Monday, pale and shaking from hunger because there was no food over the weekend; kids who starve over school holidays and breaks because there is no food.  I’m sorry but I don’t consider feeding a starving child a waste of federal funding!

But this isn’t negatively affecting just children. This is affecting the population you all care about and serve. The policy delivers a 5.1% cut to a broad range of federal programs, including those under the Administration on Aging, which provides federal funds for senior nutrition programs, like Meals on Wheels.

Many vulnerable older adults’ only hot meal comes from this program: just one meal a day, around lunchtime. The cuts affect real numbers, which equate to about 19 million fewer meals a day for elders. The Meals on Wheels program isn’t just for independent seniors. It also serves “congregant” meals served in group settings and funds nutrition-service incentive programs.

And again, I’m not going to apologize for strongly feeling that feeding a frail, vulnerable older adult is a waste of federal funds. No way!

Charities can’t do this alone. I heard someone state that asking charities to feed our starving Americans is like trying to fill the Grand Canyon with a spoon. As a “Superpower” we always seem to find money to aid other countries but I ask:  How can we call ourselves a “Superpower” if we fail as a government to feed our own children and vulnerable elders?

Just keeping it real,

Nurse Jackie




The Real Nurse Jackie is written by Jacqueline Vance, RNC, CDONA/LTC, a 2012 APEX Award of Excellence winner for Blog Writing. Vance is a real life long-term care nurse who is also the director of clinical affairs for the American Medical Directors Association. A nationally respected nurse educator and past national LTC Nurse Administrator of the Year, she also is an accomplished stand-up comedienne. She has not starred in her own national television series — yet. The opinions supplied here are her own and do not necessarily reflect those of her employer or her professional affiliates.