Hunger in the US

Sharon November 17th, 2009

So here are the numbers.  One in nine (and probably soon one in eight) families need food stamps to keep food on the table.  And despite the fact that we are subsidizing food at a vast rate - seriously, think about the enormous impact of subsidizing food for 37 million Americans - they are still hungry.  The USDA report that was just released apparently shocked the President, who equally apparently, hasn’t been paying attention.

In a year, despite food stamps and other resources, the USDA reports that 17 million Americans went hungry.  One out of every *FIVE* children went hungry last year - a jump from one in six last year.  Child hunger is increasing dramatically, much faster than adult hunger.  In some states in the midwest, including Ohio and Illinois, the numbers were one out of three.  Think about that - about the fact that in the middle of the densest stands of calories in the world, one out of every three kids in a classroom goes hungry.  Half a million children are frequently hungry.

For those who think that the food crisis is over, or somehow conveniently far away, this should be a reminder that it is present, and it is now.  The hunger numbers have been going up steadily since 2007 - and we mostly pay attention at the holidays.  But annual attention isn’t enough anymore - we have to pay attention all the time.

We have spent trillions bailing out the banks, and stimulating the stock market - while we have failed miserably to provide for the most basic needs of our citizenry - food, shelter, health care, protection of the elderly and disabled, a defensive military.  This is what government is for - not to micromanage the banks, not to remove risk from those best able to bear it.  But we’ve abdicated our real responsibilities.

I’m fortunate in that I write to people who, if they can’t make their government act, know how to act themselves.  We’re going to need more gardens, more cooking teachers, more food preservers, more neighbors looking in on one another, more friends lending a helping hand - because someone has to pick up the slack when the government falls down.


32 Responses to “Hunger in the US”

  1. Michelle says:

    Hi, Sharon.
    I am a new reader, interested in improving folk’s ability to nourish themselves. There are many ways of becoming hungry, almost as many as there are personality types! Over the years, I have learned to read (yes, learn) reports put out by Governments, also lobby groups and activist’s aticles, even medical abstracts on hunger. One must pick through the sensationalism. I would very much like to read the questionaire that has caused such a stir, but couldn’t see how to access it on the W Post’s website. Any thoughts?
    This world will be coming closer and closer to not being able to support all the billions of humans in existance, the foretold tragedy is unthinkable! My husband and I are intersted in being those friends to lend a helping hand, as you mentioned. Supporting food banks is a great way to sart!

  2. Greenpa says:

    Michelle- sounds like you’re on the right track. For sure- all government food information is suspect, and subject to tilting.

    In the present furor- there is one aspect we’re ignoring, which is that a fair number of people who report being hungry- and who ARE hungry- actually do not KNOW how to feed themselves.

    It’s a problem I’m intimately familiar with- an ex-girlfriend grew up this way; hungry. Her parents were clueless.

    Probably we ignore it because this will be very touchy to approach “No, we’re not saying you’re stupid; but let me show you how to buy- and keep- and eat- bread.” ow.

    But that’s literally what they need to know. My xgf needed someone to show her parents- and help the family form new habits. Might have keep her brothers out of jail, who knows….

    It’s SO much easier to say “here, more stamps, buy more cheese!” - but as we can see, it’s not really working.

    It’s a big, nasty, messy, angry problem.

    Just your cup of mint tea, Sharon! :-)

    One place to start- community “pantry/food shelf” operations. I’ve seen the most ga dawful “food like substances” on their shelves- because someone donated them. Could we get one or two of them to stop accepting donations of crap? Only give out real food? And maybe with a little booklet on how to eat bread?…. Not only are Cheetos NOT FOOD- they probably actively damage hungry young people.
    :-) In your spare time, Sharon! Quick, get started!

  3. Mark N says:

    At some point we won’t be able to ‘grow’ our way out of this mess with more gardens and farms, better food distribution, green revolution, and so on. Growth can’t go on indefinitely. We’re at the point now of trying to stuff 10 pounds of manure in a 5 pound bag population-wise.

  4. Joseph says:

    Do you realize that as this is going on that we are paying-off warlords in Afghanistan? It is getting very difficult to believe that the elites give a damn about the people in this country.

    All my adult life, the underlying message that came to me from wherever - some “spiritual” impulse - concerning The Great Transition was: try to lessen the suffering as much as possible. But 10, 20 years ago, I never in my wildest dreams ever thought that things could get this bad.

    Yesterday, I gave some change to a destitude young woman panhandling outside the food coop I shop at. She looked to me to be around 18 years old….and she isnt the first teenager panhandling at this spot.

    When I lived in Seattle, there were two regular panhandlers outside of Whole Foods who I used to give money to: one was a blind homeless man and the other was a young woman who looked like she was ravaged by meth addiction.

    Seeing the trends, it is getting harder and harder everyday to overcome the sadness that more and more permeates our lives.

  5. karyn says:

    I’m wondering about the children going hungry. Here in NC the children that qualify get free breakfast and lunch at school. Even during the summer they can go by the school and eat. Does this program not exist in other states? Or are the “one in five” children not qualifying for the free meals and so are “falling through the cracks”? And yes, I understand that school food is far from ideal but at least they wouldn’t be going hungry.

  6. Brad K. says:


    “It is getting very difficult to believe that the elites give a damn about the people in this country.”

    The answer is simple - find a way for the people in this country to be valuable to the elites.

    People take care of their own house, mostly. Unless someone is contributing - they already have their plates full.

    A job is one way that people make themselves valuable to the elites, the wealthy - those with power and jobs to offer.

    In nations where feudalism was the norm for social structure, the elite garnered fealty, loyalty, and much of the production of the serfs. In return the elite provided (supposedly) security, and tried to keep anyone from starving. Do we need something like that today, to tie and bind the elites to the huddled masses just so the elites care? Dunno.

    Those who’s faith or other cultural tradition leads them to care for neighbors and strangers as if they were friends and family sometimes project their own altruism onto those with other life-values. Sometimes what is “obviously true” and “a fact” - may be buy a nice thought to others.

    And right now the elites and wealthy are under attack by the Obama administration, which promised to beggar the wealthy. Don’t look to the wealthy, today, to be sympathetic to the masses that seem to have motivated our President. All of us need to be careful about pointing fingers and yelling “greed!” and “unfair profits!” since that is where jobs and surpluses come from that is needed to assure everyone gets fed. Yes, there is greed, and criminal malfeasance. That needs to be prosecuted, not lamented for self aggrandizement and rabble rousing.

    When Bill Gates asks you, “Well, what have you done for me, today?” - what will be your answer?

    @ Greenpa,

    I think there is an issue of responsibility. When we hand out food cards and government programs, we make a statement. “Here, this should help you take care of yourself and your family. Do it.” What we don’t do is invite them to our homes, to community functions to help in the kitchens and share work with those that do know how to raise, preserve, prepare, and serve food.

    Communities breathe, and learn and grow, and nurture themselves. Today’s isolation drives young people from their parent’s home before they learn to keep a home and raise a child. As you point out, this has gone on for generations in some cases, where no one in the family is experienced at preparing food or planning meals. Too many live in a community that won’t notice.

    Perhaps what is needed is to forbid the building of any more development “communities” that aren’t formed about a core culture or faith.

    Maybe, as long as I dream here, we could mandate that no new housing could be build without an in-law apartment or two, 5-10 acres of land and zoned for small livestock - turkeys and geese or smaller. Might as well re-invent the peasant farmer! Although, realistically, it might be better to go with the village/surrounding farm land model. That way the community knits together, the old wags can identify those that need (or should get) help, and everyone gets exposed to the good examples of what works. The village concept also improves on mutual security/defense issues, and allows sharing resources like tools and plans.

    To answer your question, though, what is needed is to bring the isolated people together with experienced and gracious examples. It takes more than providing material for most people to learn; it often takes repetition, guidance, and an exchange of respect.

  7. aimee says:

    I agree with Greenpa that education on how to buy and cook basic food would go a long way toward improving nutrition in this country. Notice I say Nutrition, not “hunger.” There is no arguing the truth that a buck will buy you more calories at McDonald’s than it will at the grocery store. But as a steady diet, the cheap lentils and rice are better than the the cheap hamburger. I am currently engaged in teaching my teenage daughter how to cook (I know, why didn’t she learn at my knee?) and am realizing that there is actually a heck of a lot of knowledge to be acquired, from basic nutrition to basic food storage, to basic cooking techniques. A skill as complex as feeding a family can’t be learned in a month or two. Especially when you throw in gardening, animal husbandry, cheesemaking, and butchering as part of the package.

  8. Rebekka says:

    “Maybe, as long as I dream here, we could mandate that no new housing could be build without an in-law apartment or two, 5-10 acres of land and zoned for small livestock – turkeys and geese or smaller.”

    That would be an excellent way to disadvantage the poor even further. If you restrict housing like that where you have growing populations, houses will become so expensive only the rich can afford them. Creating shanty towns and poverty.

  9. ex consumer says:

    A few thoughts practical…

    In my experience, the teens I fed and sheltered last year were just plain hungry and looking for a safe place to crash at night. Sure, they would eat Cheetos if that was what I handed them. On the other hand, when I cooked up a huge pot of beans or soup, they ate that just as fast.

    We’ve been living out of the food pantry. When I take my cloth bags down there to be filled, the ladies in the stockroom frequently clue in that we want nutrition wise: the organics, lejumes, rice etc so that is what they give us. I have often also able to register the teens themselves at the pantry so long as I accompany them. This way, it doesn’t cut into my family’s alottment and the kids can then show up themselves later to get food.

    Just so you know, kids who can bring their own groceries often find it a little easier to score a couch to sleep on.

    Others things going on in our state: More and more farmer markets and local farms are taking food stamp cards and WIC vouchers. Oftentimes, farms will give a nice discount for program participants to pick-it-themselves. Additionally, stores that service the lowest income folks - often secondhand stores will set up free tables and free boxes where food pantries and local residents can drop off perishable items such as bread etc to pick up on off weeks. This prevents wastage and supplements nicely.

    Please check with your neighborhood schools… some states having drastically slashing budgets by cutting days, meal services etc. Some with the highest rates of homeless children and youth are offering free meals for the weekends in backpacks run entirely by donation and even summer programs where they can at least get one meal a day when school is not in session. This varies greatly in different areas of the country,

    Please do not overlook Senior meal programs either. At least where I have seen, there are oftentimes a shortage of volunteers to help serve these folks especially in more rural areas. Many of them are running on strapped budgets and welcome donations - especially home cooked deserts. Just make sure to provide diabetic options and list ingredients as many seniors have health issues.

  10. ex consumer says:


    A friend of mine, let’s call her Barbara Jean, is a poor widow living on social security death benefits raising 3 children on her own. She has one 15 year old in school and two others barely over 18. The benefits provide enough to pay her rent and one of her utilities… So, she looks for odd jobs such as cleaning apartments when they become vacant in exchange for rent credit or cash and the rest of the time she alternates which utility gets paid. She recycles, babysits, runs errands and does the neighborhood laundry. She’s also really handy so fixes people’s cars, takes the elderly to their doctor appointments and generally fills in for most of the neighborhood.

    Financially, one month, she pays the phone bill. Next, the electricity. Push comes to shove, she goes without a phone for awhile because one of the kids needs something extra like too many doctor copays or perhaps the 8th grade class is taking a trip to the state capital to learn about begonias. Of course, that costs the price of a phone bill and a new pair of shoes.

    Her sister, Nikki, just lost her job, had her house repossessed, her husband left her and she has two kids under 7. Barbara Jean says… “Well, there are already 4 of us in a two bedroom, but come on over and we’ll figure something out.” Well, Nikki packs up the family and drives four states over filling out unemployment forms, resumes and selling everything they can.

    Barbara Jean’s kids get mad at her because now they have 7 folks in a two bedroom, the phone is shut off, mom is busy all the time, and what, oh what, are we going to do? “Please don’t mess thing up, mom! You promised I could stay here while I go to school and finals are coming. I think I can get at job at Krogers to pay my books next semester because Becky works in the deli department…. Gosh, life hasn’t been the same since dad died and getting worse all the time!”

    Well anyway that’s life, right?

  11. Sharon says:

    Michelle, there’s a direct link to the USDA report in the Post article. It is certainly true that all government statistics are suspect, but they’ve been gathering these statistics more or less similarly for decades, and we know that the numbers are going steadily - and rapidly - up. Food insecurity means that people don’t know whether they will have food or not. Hunger means people actually go without food - this is unpleasant for an adult, but doable if you don’t have to do it too often. It is actively destructive to kids.

    Yes, school lunch programs do a lot to help - but most kids need three meals a day, not just two, and weekends and holidays are a nightmare for a surprising number of children - there’s a great program in Chicago that is being mimicked in other cities where kids are sent home with backpacks of food over the weekends, because previously so many kids were arriving back having not eaten at all or minimally over the weekend.

    As I often point out, in the cold states, there’s a chronic issue of “heat or eat” - when the poor suddenly start having to pay heating bills, they cut back on food for the kids. And, of course, the worst victims are the kids too little to go to school.

    Add in that people really don’t know how to cook or feed themselves, in some cases, that many of the homeless live in motel rooms with no cooking facilities and no access to easy shopping, many of the poor and elderly are basically shut-in and have no one to do their shopping for them, so they skip meals, many both rural and urban poor live far from good stores or food sources, or only have expensive convenience stores, and in many families where parents work two or three or four jobs, older kids do childcare and cooking, and a whole host of other issues, and you get a big mess.


  12. Susan B says:

    Last week the director of a large area food bank (one of four in MA) gave an informational talk at a local church. She told us in this state the large food banks which supply pantries with food, etc., have plenty of federal and state monies and plenty of food donated by large corporations. But, the local pantries and distribution centers need more help.
    She sees the focus of food banks changing from emergency food supply only to continual community interaction. Their new goals include establishing vegetable gardens at every public school, expanding the summer meal program for school children, and influencing government to loosen monies and regulations so more local fresh produce may be included in food distribution.

  13. Deb says:

    Some observations:

    This made the front page of the paper in my community yesterday with followup articles on the local food pantry and shelters.

    When I worked in a grocery store cashiering, they had a donation program to the local food pantry where you could donate cash via your tab and get a receipt for tax purposes. The woman who ran the food pantry would order what they needed and get it at cost out of those funds-she loved it because they got too much peanut butter and beans donated and she could round out the supply she had with the donated money.

    The CSA’s around here take the extra produce they have each week and donate it to food pantries so in the summer, at least, the receipents are getting some fresh food.

    During deer season here, you can donate the venison from your license to food pantries. The processor delivers it directly, frozen. You pay the processing costs. They get lots of meat that way. I have a friend who enjoys hunting, has a lot of land and each year gives 6 or 7 deer. We usually give one or two, depending on how many are shot.

    I commented on another post of Sharon’s that a friend quipped that I should teach classes on how to be poor-she meant it as a joke. Sometimes I think I should look into it and put together a “curriculum.”

  14. Bill--TN says:

    This thread, and the interesting, thoughtful comments, again raises in my mind the question of how a society (comprising about 5% of world population) that is “wealthy” enough to consume better than 25% of world resources annually while prosecuting two foreign wars of dubious merit can still tolerate such disgraceful and widespread hunger.

    Of course, like so many things, hunger is a relative idea. How does hunger in the US compare to the chronic hunger and starvation in less “developed” societies? Hunger, in both cases, seems tied to war and exploitation, as well as grossly distorted priorities and expectations.

    As we watch food riots erupt in other countries, it should be clear that food, and the lack of same, is truly an explosive issue. Things haven’t exploded in the US yet but, when hunger statistics and profiles of those effected continue to worsen, can the possibility of food riots here be discounted?

    I’ve been “hungry”, but never HUNGRY. As I have no means of growing anything close to a sufficient food supply, and as my income is fixed and relatively meager, I’m not so complacent that I think I’ll never confront the Big H. So I contribute to food/hunger causes as best I can and hope that, if that time comes, someone will help me get as well as I gave.

    As the economic crisis deepens (dare call it “depression”?), so, obviously, will the hunger crisis. I have little hope that government has the will or means to eliminate, or even mitigate, the effects on a growing number of people. Individual and collective efforts seem, to me, to be the best answer—community (local) food banks and gardens, CSA, any effort to localize and shorten the field-to-table food path.

  15. Deb says:

    One thing I find interesting is that childhood obesity is a growing problem for this nations kids AND childhood hunger is the highest in years….

    How can the two be reconciled? Empty calories and no exercise?

  16. Michelle P says:

    I spend more of my time learning about food & feeding people than I do trying to understand the politics of food.
    Though learning about food has been a life long process, there is still much to learn.
    I’ve been practicing with backyard chickens for a few years & ready to move on to goats. We garden & preserve only a little. Maybe one day when there is enough sun at the right time, the homemade solar food dehydrator will be of some use.

    “To answer your question, though, what is needed is to bring the isolated people together with experienced and gracious examples. It takes more than providing material for most people to learn; it often takes repetition, guidance, and an exchange of respect.”

    I try to make connections with people with the same lifestyle/homesteading type interests so I can learn form them & hopefully share whatever I might have to offer. Two of my best local friends/connections have come by chance. We do so need those “experienced & gracious’ examples.

    We are on only an acre that I mostly manage myself. I have a lot of support though to choose this lifestyle…but it takes everything I have to live up to the vision of this place as even just a small degree of sufficiency. I have given everything I have to ‘adapting in place’ & to feeding the people that may join us here, for an hour, a few days or a few years, and still I feel called to do more.

    So, Sharon, thank you for the food for thought. I will most likely not make any government impact today, but I can learn something new in food storage, growing, preparing or sharing.

  17. Eleanor says:

    Wow! I had no idea that things were that bad.

    Karyn- I think that school lunch programs must run the gamut. For example, when we lived in Nashville, TN, the schools did have a great breakfast and lunch program. In fact, it was so good that a lot of families ate their breakfasts at school with their kids, whether they were subsized or not (e.g., the paid for it themselves if not subsidized for the kids). It was really great for the kids, because they got good meals and spent good time with their families.

    In contrast, when we moved to an up-scale area of San Diego (known as Carmel Valley), there were no school breakfasts or lunches in the entire school district (at the grade school level), for anyone. You couldn’t buy hot lunch for your kids, and if they needed subsidized lunches, I’m not sure where they would have come from.

  18. cecelia says:

    Just a note on the idea that families can get more bang for their food dollar by simply learning how to cook from scratch - my experience has been that many working poor families are doing several jobs and working rotating shifts. This makes it very hard for them to do the “cook from scratch” thing or even get to a food bank.

    I do think that the idea of creating spaces with commonly held land - allotments as they call them in the UK - is a good idea. The allotments notion in the Uk dates back to before the Norman Conquest when every village had common land - each family had a share and this included land for some livestock too. Of course, this would mean helpong people how to learn about growing their food and also the time thing becomes an issue too - but it is a “Plan B” for hard times.

  19. TheNormalMiddle says:

    Whenever this subject is broached, I often think about the lower-middle class families that make “too much money” for any real assistance goverment or otherwise (many church food pantries now have documentation requirements and are not “free” to just anyone).

    I know of several families personally where there are several kids, both parents working, and making very small amounts of money. They don’t get any real help, so mom and dad are skipping meals and making sure the kids are fed—something. They are eating boxed macaroni, pancakes and .99 soda because it is cheaper, not healthier. They are reaping the health side-effects as well, thus further aggrivating the problem all the while.

    I don’t know what the answer is. I’d like to see more solutions for those people who fall into the income guideline cracks.

  20. Sonrisa says:

    I bet many of these hungry people consider themselves “middle class”. This class thing is actually pretty foreign to me. You can either provide for yourself and family or you can’t. So often I see people who make a lot of money and have tons of fancy-schmancy stuff, but are unable to provide for their families. The credit cards are maxed out, so they go to one of these payday loan places just to buy food. I actually feel sorry for them. The need to maintain the illusion of “middle class” is kind of like being addicted to drugs. You’ll do anything for it including sacrifice your family. We need to stop classifying people and start living within our means. Even if that means living in a dump and driving a put put car to your white collar desk job:P.

    Ex consumers story about “Barbara Jean” is very common. In spite of her own situation, she is happy to take in someone that’s in greater need. I witnessed this constantly growing up. It seems the less money or status a person has, the more they are willing to help however they can. Whether it’s a couple of bucks to get by, or a place to stay for a week or two. I guess you could call it peasant insurance;).

  21. Sharon says:

    Bill, I think your insight that war and misplace social priorities are at the root of both deep and light hunger (the deep being the kind that leads to death and profound suffering in the poor world, the latter being the kind that stunts growth and undermines stability, but doesn’t kill people in the rich world) is right.

    Deb, I think of a lot of my classes that way - teaching people how gracefully enter a kind of poverty they’ve never experienced before. So yes, maybe you should.


  22. Deb says:


    I wouldnt even know where to begin because I see the issues people face as complex-food is a huge component but then so is housing, heat and clothing.

    There is a whole generation of people out there who dont have basic basic skills anymore. Skills like mending and sewing, cooking from scratch, simple car and household maintenance, gardening were things my parents grew up learning at home. I talk to women all the time who tell me sewing is too hard and they could never master it. Or they could never change the oil in thier car themselves even tho it’s much cheaper.

    Sometimes I just want to teach a class that focuses on “You can do this, it’s not too hard.”

    If that makes sense.

  23. MEA says:

    My head is very sore — in all sorts of ways….

    Just finished a long exchange with a women who think that by having food drives we are encouraging poeple to be poor.

    She makes all the points about them not cooking, buying just chips, buying make up, buying things she never would on food stamps. Has never been to a soup kitchen, but knows they are full of grown men who can’t be bothered to get a job, pointed out that children can get free luches at school, that people can buy food in bulk, etc. etc.

    And all that is true…but when I bring up a family headed by a 70 year old grandmother who literally can not open a jar or use a regular can opener, and is looking after an assortment of grandchildren — while living in a single motel room with a mini fridge and 1 hot plate (and no mircowave allowed) 5 under 7, inc. one who has such sever CP that she can’t walk, talk and need to be be fed, bathed, changed, dressed, etc. so the idea of her getting to someplace like Costos on the bus, having the money up front a membership (assumping they’d take food stamps) or even to a big grocery where you can buy bulk, and then getting it home, when if can’t manage to pour milk from a full gallon, is a bit of a stretch, (and I’ve lost contol of this sentance….)

    Anyway, I was told, “I’ve never known anyone like that: I’ve never seen anyone one like that,” and I don’t beleive that anyone would be allowed to act like that.”

    Well, I know of this woman — I do shit for her other than supplying clothing, toddle books, and sometimes a loaf of homemake bread or something as the little girl with CP goes to the special needs preschool where my daughter went, and I’m still in touch with the nurse there.

    The women I’m so PO’ed out may know know anyone like that — but I do. And it’s after a conversation like that that I decide to need to step up and do something only to quickly fall back into the same old pattern of a little to help here, a little to help there — no amazing life changing differences either for me or for the people who need help.

    Why, when we know so much needs to be done, do I just let intertia take over?

  24. Laurie in MN says:

    So sorry to hear about your conversation with that woman. I’m afraid it rather reminds me of conversing with one of my sisters-in-law (albeit on a different subject) — they know what they know and you are obviously not only mistaken, but *being* taken. *sigh* It’s frustrating and infuriating, and the feeling of beating your head against a brick wall is probably why the inertia sets in. Really hard to work up initiative to do more when you encounter that kind of resistance. That kind of rampant *negativity*.

    The only idea I have is, any chance you could get that stubborn woman to come *help* you with what you do? Just so she can SEE what is going on in her community?

    *crickets* *crickets* *crickets*

    Yeah, didn’t think so. :( Blessings on you for doing what you do. You are good people.

  25. MEA says:

    Thanks Laurie — I just wish that if everyone (and I know that a lot of people are) did a little bit (or a lot) it would save the world.

    My younger daughter, who lives in a bit of an either or world, kept saying she wanted everyone to be rich. After a while I realized that as far as she was concerned people were poor or rich — nothing in between. I asked her what rich was like and she said something along the lines of like us — a house, a garden, some books…

    What I great world that would be.

  26. Laurie in MN says:

    I dig your daughter’s idea of rich — add some kitties to the mix, and some fabric to play with, and I’m *so* there! *grin* (And unless we all adopt casual AND formal nudity, there will be fabric of some sort. I DO live in the frozen North.)

    I think all we can do is what we are doing, and maybe the tiniest bit more. Like drag someone else into helping us. (Like my Darling Husband. *evil grin*) You already have your daughter, so you’re ahead of me. :)

    Hang in there.

    *goes off to think about a world where everyone gets a roof over their head, a little bit of ground to dig in (and plenty of food), books for rainy days, and kitties to play with….*

  27. Barb says:

    Sharon, I read the USDA report your refer to.

    The report was based on data obtained by surveying 44,000 households.

    Representation questions asked include:

    Worried food would run out before (I/we) got money to buy more
    Food bought didn’t last and (I/we) didn’t have money to get more
    Couldn’t afford to eat balanced meals
    Adult(s) cut size of meals or skipped meals
    Relied on few kinds of low-cost food to feed child(ren)

    Judging by the raw data reported, of the people who answered “yes” to questions such as the ones shown above, very few frequently went hungry. Most of them reported that their “yes” answers only applied sometimes.

    I live in one of the poorest communities in the U.S. and most of the people I encounter are overweight, many of them grossly obese. In the grocery store, I see fat people checking out carts full of soft drinks, white bread, boxes of sugary cereal, candy and so forth. It is not uncommon to see full carts that contain no nutritious food at all. For the cost of the junk people waste their money on, they could have bought fresh vegetables, whole grain products, beans, and other nutritious foods. Based on my observations, the problem in the U.S. (at least for people who live in houses or apartments with kitchens) is more ignorance or negligence rather than actual unavailability of food. This would not be true for people who are living on the streets, but I doubt that houseless people were included in the USDA survey.

  28. Anni says:

    Sometimes people, “meaning well” make laws that do more harm. My western county (larger than several states) which contains a big city but also much rural land, has rules (made by those city folks who like to ride their bicycles through farm country on the weekends) that owners can only use 65% of any piece of land, must have wide setbacks from any water, may not clear brush or weeds, and label any place which has standing water in the winter a “wetland”. Sure does make it hard to farm.

  29. Mark N says:

    In general, legislation protecting wetlands from farmers and other folks who would drain them, fill them, or otherwise destroy them is a very good thing. Farmers can be a destructive bunch at times, especially the ignorant ones.

  30. Laura says:

    I get strongly miffed about all this “hungry people” stuff. People get more than enough food stamps-it’s what they’re CHOOSING to put in the cart that’s the problem. They get more in food stamps than I spend on myself-so I know it’s MORE THAN SUFFICIENT to eat off of if they’d simply put down the television remote, pry their lazy backside off the couch, and get into the kitchen and make a real meal. Instead of more food stamps and more food pantries—money should be spent on teaching people how to cook. How hard is it to soak some beans or toss some water, split peas, salt, pepper into a pot? If I can make a meal of lentils, homemade bread, some vegetables, so can they. Instead, the carts are full of frozen pizza, Hot Pockets, and other nonsense and two weeks later the foodstamp allotment has been spent and they are “hungry”.

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