"It is the single most important civil rights and social justice issue of our day," Hickman said.
"I tell social workers, 'You got into this field because you wanted to help people, and that's fine. But think about helping more people.'"
Under the federal Affordable Care Act, states may expand Medicaid to families making up to 138 percent of the federal poverty line, about $26,300 a year for a family of three. The expansion is completely federally funded for the first three years, and then requires 10 percent state funding. In West Virginia, it would mean health care for about 100,000 low-income working people who cannot get insurance through their jobs and who cannot afford it on their own.
• On a policy level, call the governor about Medicaid expansion, echoes Stephen Smith, executive director of the West Virginia Healthy Kids and Families Coalition.
But if you want to do something else, "Call me," he said, at 304-610-6512.
"If there is anyone out there looking to be involved as an individual volunteer, as a church congregation, as a community member, we would love to hear from them," Smith said.
"In addition to working on statewide policy, we've also been collecting the best ideas of what local people are doing to respond. I really would be happy to take that phone call."
• Lawmakers appear to feel a similar urge to do something. The Senate Select Committee on Children and Poverty originated a bill this week that would offer another way to contribute.
The Feed to Achieve Act, passed by the full Senate on Friday, acknowledges that poor nutrition and hunger prevent children from learning. The bill would build on existing child nutrition efforts.
First, it would require school systems to spread statewide a successful pilot effort to serve breakfast and lunch to all students. The federal school lunch program reimburses states for each meal served, at higher rates for children who qualify for free or reduced price lunch, and a lesser amount for children who don't qualify.
By serving more meals, the state would receive more money for schools with a high proportion of poor students. The bill would also require schools to develop alternative breakfast options and scheduling that lead to more students actually eating the meal, such as "grab-and-go" bags.
Second, the bill would permit counties and the state to collect private donations to buy food for children, particularly to take home or to have after school, when low-income children tend to go hungry.
"This is a direct impact of our meetings," said Sen. John Unger, chairman of the committee. "It's not only about feeding every child. It's also an opportunity for people, by coming together, to rally around their schools, to have a common vision and a common goal."
For people who want to do something.
Miller, the Gazette's editorial page editor, can be reached at d...@wvgazette.com.