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Food Scarcity Increasing in US

The number of Americans who lack dependable access to adequate chow increased in 2008 to 49 million, the largest number since the government began keeping track in 1995, according to a new USDA report released Monday. Single mothers are the most hard hit, though half the people reporting food scarcity live above the official poverty line. You can see the Washington Post article or scan my notes from that article behind the cut.

HUNGRY KIDS
2008 almost 17 million children (over 1/5) live in households w/ occ food shortages
up from 12 million+ in 2007
outright hungry children: nearly 700,000-->1.1 million
all ages: 15% did not consistently have adequate food
11% in 2007

THIS IS "the greatest deterioration in access to food during a single year
in the history of the report" which is not that long a time period
report started being issued in 1995, based on Census

OBAMA GOAL TO ELIMINATE HUNGER AMONG KIDS
Obama pledged during campaign to eliminate hunger among children by 2015
first time a president has set such a goal
the administration has not announced a goal yet, policy is in development
plan to use $85 million freed up by Congress as part of a recent appropriations bill
to feed kids during the summer when subsidized school meals are not available

Vilsack attributes change to incr unemployment, over 10% nationwide currently, and under-employ
stimulus effects not yet clear

main STUDY author at USDA, Mark Nord
most food-stressed families have at least 1 adult with full time work
he thinks prob is wages
I wonder about where that one full paycheck goes
maybe it's plenty of money but they're spending it on booze/drugs/other habits

federal programs only partly functional
slightly over 50% of people with food shortages had participated in one of these govt progs: food stamps, subsidized school lunches, WIC

2008: people in 4.8 million households used private food pantries, 2007: 3.9 million
people in about 625,000 households resorted to soup kitchens, nearly 90,000 more than the year before

food shortages pronounced among women raising children alone
2008: more than one in three single mothers reported that they struggled for food
more than one in seven said someone in their home had been hungry
black or Hispanic 2x+ as likely to have food scarcities

poverty and food shortages are linked but are not the same thing
50% of households with food scarcity are not below official poverty line
most of the rest live at less than 2x the poverty level

(In 2008, in the United States of America, the poverty threshold for a single person under 65 was $11,201; the threshold for a family group of four, including two children, was $21,834.)

Washington area:
food shortages variable
in DC: 13.7% of households between 2006 and 2008 have had some food issues
it was worse there during a 3 year period last decade

Virginia:
prevalence of food shortages fallen in the past year to less than 9 percent

Maryland:
slight worsening to 9.6% percent (last 3 yrs) from 8/7% 10 yrs ago

food insecurity = "yes" answer to several Q's
whether, in the past year, their food sometimes ran out before they had money to buy more
whether they could not afford to eat nutritionally balanced meals
whether adults in the family sometimes cut the size of their meals -- or skipped them
# of yesses = degree of food insecurity

Comments

( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
neptunia67
Nov. 16th, 2009 10:42 pm (UTC)
Gads, these numbers are frightening. I have a theory about some of this "shortage" having to do with people's inability to create meals from cheap ingredients, in other words, no knowledge of how to cook. It is not hard to make cheap, nutritious meals even with the increased cost of food, if one knows how. If somebody's shopping cart is full of soda, frozen pizzas, box meals, etc., cost comes up quickly. And, there is little to no nutritional value in those items.

Hmm. This brings up a lot of interesting ideas for public education.
liveonearth
Nov. 16th, 2009 10:49 pm (UTC)
I agree. There are a great many people who have cell phones and cable tv who also complain of hunger. I am not convinced that these numbers are telling us the story.
neptunia67
Nov. 16th, 2009 11:20 pm (UTC)
It's frightening what our culture deems "necessary" items/services. I'm not convinced that the numbers are telling the whole story, either.
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )

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