Statistics indicate that around 50 million people in America live in food insecure (hunger) households. This is unacceptable and not the shape of our heart.
According to the USDA Government report these following very disturbing statistics are the state of food in our very wealthy and prosperous union:
1. 85.7 percent (105.1 million) of U.S. households were food secure throughout 2013.
2. 14.3 percent of U.S. households were food insecure throughout 2013.
3. 19.5 percent of U.S. households with children were food insecure throughout 2013.
4. 49.1 million people live in food-insecure households
5. 8.6 – 15.9 million children live in food-insecure households
Food insecurity is defined as:
“At times during the year, these households were uncertain of having, or unable to acquire, enough food to meet the needs of their members because they had insufficient money or other resources for food. Food insecure households include two categories of food insecurity:
a. Low food security–These food-insecure households obtained enough food to avoid substantially disrupting their eating patterns or reducing food intake by using a variety of coping strategies, such as eating less varied diets, participating in Federal food assistance programs, or getting emergency food from community food pantries; and
b. Very low food security–In these food-insecure households, normal eating patterns of one or more household members were disrupted and food intake was reduced at times during the year because they had insufficient money or other resources for food.”
This should be unacceptable and grossly shameful to us all, but is it? And if so, do we have the heart and the will to get involved and combine personal and government resources to overcome this challenge?
I have never personally experienced hunger. I don’t personally know anyone who actually experienced hunger (and we are talking about real hunger here). I get hungry for a meal and peckish for a snack. But I have never experienced real hunger. The kind of hunger that is the result of days of insufficient food or not eating at all, leaving one in physical and psychological pain, in a daze and the constant state of overwhelming anxiety and quest for the next piece of food, and the next one after that. This is not the kind of “hunger” that provides a mild physical reaction when we skip a meal, and then of course, we’re “starving.”
The United States of America, arguably the “richest” country in the world today (and possibly in its history) with a 2014 GDP of $17,416 trillion (number 2 after China with $17,632 trillion, but they have 1.2 billion people), is ranked number 26 out of 29 developed countries (between Greece–25 and Lithuania–27) in the overall well-being of our children. This UNICEF report from April 2013, looked at and ranked countries based on the following five dimensions: 1. Material well-being 2. Health and safety 3. Education 4. Behaviors and risks and 5. Housing and environment.
Food insecurity (hunger) in America (unlike some other regions of the world), is not due to scarcity of food but is due to poverty. Million of Americans earning low wages struggle to put food on the table and make ends meet. However, we also have our share of “food deserts” in America, defined as:
“Food deserts are defined as urban neighborhoods and rural towns without ready access to fresh, healthy and affordable food. Instead of supermarkets and grocery stores, these communities may have no food access or are served only by fast food restaurants and convenience stores that offer few healthy affordable food options. The lack of access contributes to poor diet and can lead to higher levels of obesity and other diet-related diseases, such as diabetes and heart disease.”
(You can find out if your community is officially a food desert by using the USDA-ERS Food Desert Locator http://www.ers.usda.gov/data/fooddesert).
Should a great country aspire to food banks?
Solving hunger in America is doable and not difficult. We need to expand temporary food programs and fund the network of food banks, faith based programs and other charitable organizations that provide temporary support to people in need. We must fund school food programs to ensure that children can maximize their education and acquire marketable skills that will end the cycle of poverty and eliminate their need for long-term food support, a resource needed for temporary assistance (that must include a backpack program where needed, so kids have food for the weekends at home till their families get back on their feet).
We can and should capitalize on the abundance of food we have and divert left over perishable good food (food recovery) from restaurants, supermarkets, produce stands, hotels, schools, cafeterias, hospitals, stores, prisons and other venues to people and families in need. And finally, we must address the root causes of poverty by creating living wage jobs for Americans so that they can support and feed themselves and their families. People should not have to choose between rent and food, heat and food, gas in the car to get to their minimum wage job and food, medicine and food, clothes for their kids and food, dentist and food (you get the idea). A government supported and subsidized jobs program, in partnership with the private sector, is essential to raising millions out of poverty and into the self-sufficient and self sustained class all strive to be as part of.
Video & Screenshot: littlejames38 /YouTube