Their numbers are well documented on government statistics, and survey results. Their highest counts are located in the following 10 States: Mississippi, New Mexico, Texas, Arkansas, Maine, South Carolina, Georgia, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Missouri*. There are 36.2 million of them; 12.4 million are children. For the most part, this group does not comprise the mentally ill, criminals, or those we may criticize as being lazy or stupid; indeed, many are of the working poor. They are like you and I perhaps, except for one thing: they live just above (or below) the poverty line, and they must struggle at times to obtain food to eat. They are the silent citizens of the food insecure nation—America.
In this story, Kathleen McDade, her husband, and their three young children, live pay check to pay check. Though both work for the local school district, they are sometimes unable to provide food to feed their family. Their individual plight is but one example of what some experts are saying is a breakdown of the federal nutrition safety net, a group of federal food assistance programs designed to prevent people from going hungry.
By contrast, what does the face of 36.2 million people look like? How long a line would they stretch, if standing end to end, to form a single soup line? In America, do we continue to allow people to go hungry? And if so, how are we able to define our greatness?
Related post: Joel Berg: How to End Hunger in America, Berg identifies the extent of the current hunger crisis, and traces the history of how we have systematically dismantled the federal nutrition safety net, while at the same time allowing income disparity in America to expand to historic proportions. Berg believes the Federal Government must take the lead role again if we are to solve the hunger crisis in America. Joel Berg: How To End Hunger In America-Part 2
Recipe from this show:
In the United States hunger manifests itself, generally, in a less severe form. This is in part because established programs – like the federal nutrition programs – help to provide a safety net for many low-income families. While starvation seldom occurs in this country, children and adults do go hungry and chronic mild undernutrition does occur when financial resources are low. The mental and physical changes that accompany inadequate food intakes can have harmful effects on learning, development, productivity, physical and psychological health, and family life.
WHO RECEIVES EMERGENCY FOOD ASSISTANCE?
A2H Network agencies [Food Banks] serve a broad cross-section of households in America. Estimates of key characteristics include:
- 36.4% of the members of households served by the A2H National Network are children under 18 years old
- 8% of the members of households are children age 0 to 5 years.
- 10% of the members of households are elderly.
- About 40% of clients are non-Hispanic white; 38% are non-Hispanic black, and the rest are from other racial groups. 17% are Hispanic.
- 36% of households include at least one employed adult.
- 68% have incomes below the official federal poverty level during the previous month.
- 12% are homeless.
Hunger In America, Key Findings 2006
More than 13 million families in 2004 were unable at times to buy the food they needed, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Finances are so strained for 5 million of those families that one or more members goes hungry as a result.
*From the Latest USDA Report Household Food Security in the United States, 2007 (PDF)
From Hunger to Fame, With a Shoestring Menu (NYT, 1-15-2014, Jack Monroe Has Become Britain’s Austerity Celebrity)