Hunger. Just the sound of it conjures up need; the word brings a tightness to the chest and an ache to the belly. But, hunger is everywhere lately. Chances are you encountered more than one person on the street today who is dealing with the possibility of an unpredictable food supply. ABC News just wrapped up a series called "Hunger at Home" that presented some staggering facts:
- 44 million Americans currently live in poverty. That's more than the populations of AK, AZ, GA, HI, MD, MI, RI, MS and WY combined.
- 35% of those living in poverty are children.
- In 2009, 1 in 5 children in America lived in homes that relied on emergency food sources.
- 17 million children are among the food insecure- meaning that they may not know if or where from their next meal is coming.
- Since the recession, 20 million more Americans have begun using the food stamp program.
- According to the USDA, 49% of all babies born in the U.S. are born to families who receive some form of WIC assistance.
- 29% of Americans that are food insecure earn above the 185% poverty line and thus, cannot qualify for federal food assistance.
A few links to learn more about facing and addressing hunger:
- ABC News' Hunger at Home Series: A collection of articles and videos on the face of hunger in America today. If you only have time to check out one article, make it this heartbreaking piece on how hunger affects children.
- A business news summary of America's food stamp program and its use.
- CBS Philly story on the Philabundance collection program of having local gardeners donate their surplus produce (or possibly grow more than they know they will need for home use) to the food bank for distribution.
- A story from Maine and the Portland Press Herald about a woman who gave up her home yard to be used as a garden to grow food for area food banks.
- Fusion on the Fly is the blog of a chef who tried to live on the amount of money provided by food stamps for over a month. Start with his July 1, 2011 entries to read his compelling story. Then, realize that tens of millions of Americans live this story every day.
- Put yourself in the shoes of the hungry with the San Francisco Food Bank's "Hunger 101" interactive simulation of what's it like to apply for and use a federal food assistance program.
- A Huffington Post article lays out how $2.25 might cover your USDA recommended allotment of fruits and vegetables each day with a sample menu and other suggestions.
- An Eating Well article that illustrates healthy recipes for under $1/serving.
- Want more on feeding a family high quality food while on food stamps? Check out this Civil Eats post.
Think about getting involved in HUNGER ACTION MONTH by checking out Feeding America's suggestions or volunteering at your local food bank.
Consider joining Slow Food USA's day of awareness on September 17 by hosting or attending a $5 Dinner Challenge. Taking part shows you believe that *all* Americans deserve access to fresh, healthy food. Inexpensive food doesn't have to be junk. Get tips on making nutritious, affordable meals by linking to Slow Food's Tips and Tricks page.
Finally, I recently wrote up a quick review/summary of American Wasteland for Zomppa. It really got me thinking about all the food we waste when there are millions with not enough to eat. Since reading it, I've really made an effort to think about what I buy and how I use it.