Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Hunger in America

When you think of Children going hungry, where do you picture them living? A country in Africa? Asia? South America?

Would you picture it here in America? I wouldn't have.

As I sit here in my office, having eaten lunch, I came across an article on CNN that made me sit up and take notice.

Some 691,000 children went hungry in America sometime in 2007, while close to one in eight Americans struggled to feed themselves adequately even before this year's sharp economic downturn, the Agriculture Department reported Monday.

This is America. This isn't supposed to happen here, but it does. I have two children, two beautiful girls and I cannot imagine them going to bed hungry because of a lack of food. Nor would I want to. I wonder as I think to the city I live in, the neighborhood I live in, could one of those kids be one I know personally?

Overall, the 36.2 million adults and children who struggled with hunger during the year was up slightly from 35.5 million in 2006. That was 12.2 percent of Americans who didn't have the money or assistance to get enough food to maintain active, healthy lives.

Almost a third of those, 11.9 million adults and children, went hungry at some point. That figure has grown by more than 40 percent since 2000. The government says these people suffered a substantial disruption in their food supply at some point and classifies them as having "very low food security." Until the government rewrote its definitions two years ago, this group was described as having "food insecurity with hunger."

12.2 percent of Americans. and 11.9 million went hungry. How can this happen?

The findings should increase pressure to meet President-elect Barack Obama's campaign pledge to expand food aid and end childhood hunger by 2015, said James Weill, president of the Food Research and Action Center, an anti-hunger group.

For once I will agree with Obama. And I will support him fully on this initiative. I cannot tell you enough how much this shocked me. And as a father, it hit's home even more.

He predicted the 2008 numbers will show even more hunger because of the sharp economic downturn this year.

"There's every reason to think the increases in the number of hungry people will be very, very large based on the increased demand we're seeing this year at food stamp agencies, emergency kitchens, Women, Infants and Children clinics, really across the entire social service support structure," said James Weill, president of the Food Research and Action Center, an anti-hunger group.

Among other findings:

• The families with the highest rates of food insecurity were headed by single mothers (30.2 percent), black households (22.2 percent), Hispanic households (20.1 percent), and households with incomes below the official poverty line (37.7 percent).

• States with families reporting the highest prevalence of food insecurity during 2005-2007 were Mississippi (17.4 percent), New Mexico (15 percent), Texas (14.8 percent) and Arkansas (14.4 percent).

• The highest growth in food insecurity over the last 9 years came in Alaska and Iowa, both of which saw a 3.7 percent increase in families who struggled to eat adequately or had substantial food disruptions.

I keep thinking of the food that my family wastes because of spoilage due to not using it in time. I used to think of how the money was being wasted. Now I wonder, who could it have fed.

I will be putting a link to our local food bank here in the area I live in. I would encourage you to do the same.

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