Hunger in America: Unvieled

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There is a general idea about hunger, which is most of the times associated with the least developed countries in the world. Few people, however, actually see hunger as being a problem in the US. Still, despite the general evolution of the society as a whole, there are a growing number of poor people. Thus, it is important to consider the degree in which hunger represents a major issue for the America’s poor population. This paper argues that, indeed, hunger plays an essential role in the lives of those with limited financial means. The purpose of this paper is to increase awareness on the issue of hunger and what it represents for a large segment of the American society. Moreover, it aims to underline the causes and effects of this phenomenon at the social level. Finally, it seeks to consider different measures that could be taken by all the parties involved in order to improve the condition of the poor and hunger in America. Keywords: Hunger and Food Insecurity.

Recent headlines indicate that America has a problem with food. Simply put, Americans eat too much. Obesity is on pace to become the leading preventable cause of death in this country (Reilly, 2002). While this is cause for concern, the reality of a serious health risk linked to an abundant food supply overshadows another problem that America has with food. Hunger affected an estimated 17.1 million American households in 2008 (USDA, 2008). In the annual USDA survey on food insecurity, the number of Americans found to be food insecure in 2008 rose sharply to 49 million individuals, a 36% increase over the prior year (USDA, 2008).In a country with enough food and money to feed the world twice over, 1-in-8 people struggle to put food on his or her table (Sniffen, 2008). These are startling numbers in a land of plenty. As millions struggle to lose weight, many other millions struggle to find enough to eat. Hunger and its precursor, food insecurity, have a major impact on the lives of many Americans throughout the country. Food insecurity exists “whenever the availability of nutritionally adequate and safe food or the ability to acquire acceptable foods in socially acceptable ways is limited or uncertain” (Anderson, 1990, p. 1560). Hunger, a narrower and more severe form of deprivation, is defined as “the painful or uneasy sensation caused by a lack of food” (Anderson, 1990, p. 1560). Hunger and food insecurity is on the increase in the U.S. as families face ultimatums to pay for food or rent, food or medicine. Hunger and food insecurity are two related concepts with many of the same causes, affecting many of the same populations. Hunger and food insecurity exist on a continuum, with hunger being the end result. Food insecurity describes a situation where there is uncertainty in a household’s food supply. This is often due to low income and has an effect on purchasing decisions. Although there might not be any reduction in the amount of food consumed, the stress of not knowing that their food supply is secure can influence decisions. “Households typically adopt a series of coping strategies in response to food insecurity” (Hall, 2004). Food quality may be reduced, as may be food variety in response to food insecurity. Food insecurity is the first step toward actual food deprivation. Hunger refers to a state where food intake is actually reduced. The individual doesn’t receive the required amount of calories required for normal functioning. Hunger occurs after food insecurity has already afflicted a household.

The difference between hunger and food insecurity is related to where they fall on a continuum of food scarcity in a household. If food intake has not actually been reduced, but the possibility exists that it may be, then the situation is food insecurity. When the instability of food supply has reached the point that food intake is reduced, hunger results. Hunger represents a major issue for America’s poor population. It is an obvious...
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