Skip to main content

Depression-era black and white photo of big crowd waiting in a soup line.
What's old is new again.
While the Senate is slashing the government’s main food assistance program by $4 billion over the next decade, and the House by $20 billion, one in six Americans is going hungry. That's 50 million people, and among them nearly 17 million children. The problem is increasing. Fourteen million more people were classified as food insecure in 2011 than in 2007. That's according to a just-released study [pdf] from the International Human Rights Clinic of NYU Law School.

There are government programs, Domestic Nutrition Assistance Programs (“DNAPs”), that provide food assistance, including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC). But, the study's authors argue, because of the strict eligibility requirements of the programs, barriers for participating including complicated applications, and already stingy benefits, millions of people are food insecure. What being food insecure means is choosing between buying food or paying a utility bill or rent. Or eating as opposed to buying medicine. Or skipping meals. Or being forced to buy the cheapest, often most-processed food to just be able to fill up, foregoing actual nutrition.

Food insecurity in the United States is not the result of a shortage of food or of resources; it is the result of poverty and of policies and programs that fail to prioritize the needs of low-income Americans. Despite the magnitude of the problem, and its far-reaching implications, eradicating food insecurity has not been a political priority. Instead of addressing critical gaps in food assistance, the U.S. government is considering severe funding cuts and other reforms to DNAPs that could strip millions of Americans of crucial support, exacerbate already alarming rates of food insecurity, and push families into deeper crisis.
The austerity fetish is forcing more and more people into very real hunger. Right now, sequestration is taking food away from seniors who participate in Meals on Wheels. The WIC program was spared cuts in the sequester in a last-minute effort by Congress, but it is operating on the margins and "will need a substantial funding increase in fiscal year 2014 to be able to serve all eligible applicants," according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. And, of course, Congress is on target to slash SNAP.

It's not as if hunger is an isolated problem. It creates health problems, education problems. It strains communities. One estimate cited in the study suggests that food insecurity cost the nation $167.5 billion in 2010. That's the financial cost. The moral cost to this country of allowing 1 in 6 of its people to be hungry is incalculable.

Originally posted to Joan McCarter on Thu May 30, 2013 at 09:51 AM PDT.

Also republished by Hunger in America and Daily Kos.

EMAIL TO A FRIEND X
Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags

?

More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site