Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Hunger in America

Please click on the highlighted link to go to FeedingAmerica.org's information about Hunger Action Month. The site will provide information on how you can help 1 in 8 Americans who will face hunger issues today.

People going hungry in this country seems almost impossible. Our country is one of the wealthiest on the earth, with signficant assets both monetary and agricultural. We shouldn't have a hunger problem in this country.

But, as John Adams said, "Facts are stubborn things", and the fact is we do have a hunger problem in this country. It is a serious one at that. Below are some statistics from the USDA that you will find, as I did, disconcerting.

Hunger and Poverty Statistics (source: US Census Bureau, Carmen DeNavas-Walt, B. Proctor, C.Lee Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2007; USDA Mark Nord, M.Andrews, S.Carlson. Household Food Security in the United States, 2007; Rhoda Cohen, M.Kim, J.Ohis. Hunger in America 2006. Feeding America)

Poverty - defined as a family of four with a median income of $21,800 or less.
  • in 2007, 37.3 million people (12.5%) were in poverty
  • in 2007, 7.6 (9.8%) million families were in poverty
  • in 2007, 20.3 million (10.9%) of people aged 18-64 were in poverty
  • in 2007, 13.3 million (18%) children under the age of 18 were in poverty
  • in 2007, 3.6 million (9.7%) seniors 65 and older were in poverty

Food Insecurity - defined as: where people lack the basic food intake to provide them the energy and nutrition for fully productive lives

  • In 2007, 36.2 million Americans lived in food insecure households, 23.8 million adults and 12.4 million children.
  • In 2007, 11.1 percent of households (13 million households) were food insecure.
  • In 2007, 4.1 percent of households (4.7 million households) experienced very low food security.
  • In 2007 Households with children reported food insecurity at almost double the rate for those without children, 15.8 percent compared to 8.7 percent.
  • In 2007 Households that were more liekly to experience food insecurity were households with children (15.8%), households with children headed by single women (30.2 percent) or single men (18 percent), household with income below the poverty line (37.7 percent), Black non-Hispanic households (22.2 percent) and Hispanic households (20.1 percent).
  • In 2007, 6.5 percent of households with seniors (1.7 million households) were food insecure (low food security and very low food security).

There is a strong correlation between nutrition and health. Eating the correct foods helps boost immune systems and reduce the amount of infection and illness we experience. Think of not eating. Not only is there malnutrition occurring, where in children, it is extremely harmful to their development, the ability to ward off even the most basic viruses and bacterial infections is reduced.

Food is a basic requirement for all of us. Some of us (like me) eat too much. Some can't get enough to survive. All in this country. We have to rethink our approach to our basic responsibilties to each other. Why is it more appropriate for us to spend $1 Trillion dollars fighting wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and we aren't spending the same amount of money on health care and hunger prevention? Think about that for a minute. Do some research and realize that basic diseases like influenza kill upwards of 30 thousand Americans every year. How many people did the terrorist kill last year? Looking at it from a cold (and morbid) perspective, the cost-benefit of fighting disease versus fighting Osama Bin Laden is fairly clear.

We need to pay attention to those around us we often ignore due to our busy lives. Children, Old people, families are sinking into levels of abject poverty I can't even imagine. I've not paid attention to this and I'm ashamed of myself for it. No more. This blog site will be paying particular attention to hunger issues in this country going forward. I believe we all can make the lives of our fellow Americans much better if we just make a small effort to understand and help with the hunger issue today. Go to www.feedingamerica.org. Contact your local food bank. Donate during food drives at your work or church or school. It's surprising how much good you can do with little effort and money.

No one in this country should be hungry. Let's fix that problem.

Tell me what you think,