Wednesday, November 18, 2009

50 Million Americans Hungry

Food insecurity in America skyrockets

By Edward Harrison of Credit Writedowns

The US Department of Agriculture highlights how the United States in the last decade, despite increased aggregate wealth, slid back significantly in terms of food insecurity as measure of poverty. With everyone now focused on the unemployment situation, it bears noting that even before the downturn in the economy there had been a large surge in food insecurity nationwide.

The Guardian says:

Food insecurity – defined by the USDA as when "food intake … was reduced and their eating patterns were disrupted at times during the year because the household lacked money and other resources for food" – afflicted 14.6% of Americans in 2008. ie, some 50 million people were too poor to guarantee being able to put food on the table.

The table below, also from the Guardian, shows where food insecurity is highest. While much of the distress is concentrated in the South, there are plenty of states in the Southwest and West as well. Maine has the highest food insecurity in the Northeast.


My interpretation of the data goes to income inequality. I see this as evidence that the last decade of growth in the U.S. has not been beneficial for poorer Americans. However, I would go further in saying that the downturn in the U.S. and rising unemployment, bankruptcy and foreclosure in the middle class has made plain that the middle class has also been left behind. While distress amongst poorer Americans is plain from these numbers, the diminished position in the middle class was masked by a surge in debt. This was made plain only as a result of a drop in asset prices.

At present, U.S. policy makers are trying to make this problem go away by reflating an asset bubble, but continued high unemployment is the elephant in the room which higher asset prices can not make disappear.

As for the poor, a related Guardian article gets to the heart of things:

The report said 6.7 million people were defined as having "very low food security" because they regularly lacked sufficient to eat. Among them, 96% reported that the food they bought did not last until they had money to buy more. Nearly all said they could not afford to eat balanced meals. Although few reported that this was a permanent situation throughout the year, 88% said it had occurred in three or more months.

continue reading Food insecurity in America skyrockets

also see referenced artilces:

Hungry America: food insecurity, state by state – Guardian

Record numbers go hungry in the US – Guardian


  1. I spend hours upon hours recognizing GAPs an SPREADS....these stats are TOO WIDE = INHUMANE!

    It's really very simple, Governor. When people are hungry they die. So spare me your politics and tell me what you need and how you're going to get it to these people.
    Bob Geldof

    A hungry man is not a free man.
    Adlai E. Stevenson

  2. These gaps, and spreads, have always been there. We just never paid attention to them. The MSM does like to report on these subjects because it makes the country look bad. Our priorities have been out of wack for a long time. The system that we have existed under does not work for the masses. Local food banks are empty, health clinic lines go around the block, our jails are over populated, our volunteer army has become a job market, our banksters give higher bonuses than ever. ADMIT IT FOLKS, THIS EFFEN SYSTEM IS BROKEN.