It is to be hoped that George Bush has not forgotten about the children.

Admittedly, he's been busy. But the needs of hungry, sick children do not wait.Bush mentioned children five times in his State of the Union message. He said America must invest in its future by investing in children, education, infrastructure, space and high technology.

He talked about the need to help a hungry child and the "irresistible force of a child's hand."

But since then, there have been disclosures of some sad statistics that lead to the conclusion that Americans aren't convinced their future is in their children.

An anti-hunger advocacy group recently reported that one out of eight children in America goes hungry because of poverty. The White House had no comment.

The Food Research and Action Center said it spent $1 million to conduct "the most comprehensive childhood-hunger study ever conducted in the United States" and found that nearly 12 million children under 12 are hungry or at risk of hunger.

Another new report, by the Columbia University School of Public Health, concluded that one out of every five children under 6 is likely to have health problems because of poverty. The Bush administration had no comment.

Bush, a father of five and a grandfather 12 times over, loves children. There was no more touching moment in his presidency than the other day when the child at a local elementary school didn't believe the U.S. president was sitting next to him.

But the politics of helping children seems to defy the good instincts of presidents. Republicans scorn the welfare programs of Democrats, which didn't seem to work anyway.

Meanwhile, during the Reagan-Bush years, the number of children in poverty has increased, not decreased.

In his budget proposal, Bush outlined a plan to spend more money to fight infant mortality - the United States has one of the highest rates of infant deaths among developed nations.

But for a program that would help 10 cities, he proposed to take $57 million away from nationwide programs for poor children and pregnant women. Congress went ballistic and voted $25 million more for infant mortality without the cuts in the other programs such as community health programs.

The administration complained that Congress was reducing the amount of money it wanted to spend; Congress retorted it was providing more. The bickering - next year is an election year - has just begun.

Hungry children, it has been known for years, do not do well in school. It requires energy to learn. Hungry children are susceptible to illness. They can be disruptive in class and labeled behavior problems. They miss more school than children who are not hungry.

Hungry, malnourished children do not come mainly from welfare families. They come from the working poor, children of parents who don't earn enough money to provide what their families need.

Bush argues that by concentrating on improving the economy, more jobs at better wages will be created, and this will be the biggest legacy he can leave America's children. There just isn't enough money to do it all, he says.

Nonetheless, when Bush needed an emergency appropriation of $15 billion to fund the Persian Gulf war - fought, he said repeatedly, for the national interest of the United States, he got it almost instantly.

At the Bush rate of funding the best anti-hunger program in the country, the Women, Infant and Children program, it will take 20 years to feed all those who are currently eligible - a generation.