Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Hunger in America Remains Virtually Unchanged

I suppose the good news is that it hasn't become significantly worse; unfortunately the situation hasn't improved either. Let's start with a quick overview:

More than 35.5 million people in this country went hungry in 2006 as they struggled to find jobs that can support them, a figure that was virtually unchanged from the previous year, the Agriculture Department said Wednesday.

Single mothers and their children were among the most likely to suffer, according to the study.

The 35.5 million people represented more than 1 in 10, or 12.1 percent, who said they did not have enough money or resources to get food for at least some period during the year, according to the department's annual hunger survey. That is compared with 35.1 million people who made similar claims in 2005.

"This is encouraging, but we know we have more work to do," said Kate Houston, USDA's deputy undersecretary for food, nutrition and consumer services. She said the numbers aren't much different from 2005, which saw a decline after five straight years of increases.

Of the 35.5 million people, 11.1 million reported they had "very low food security," meaning they had a substantial disruption in the amount of food they typically eat. For example, among families, a third of those facing disruption in the food they typically eat said an adult in their family did not eat for a whole day because they could not afford it.

"No one in America should go hungry," Houston said.

The survey was based on Census Bureau data and does not include the homeless. About three-quarters of a million people were homeless on a given day in 2005, according to federal estimates.

If homeless were included, the figures would be more bleak. The article goes on to list those states with the highest prevalence of hunger. Naturally I was curious as to how Oklahoma fared, since it didn't quite make the top four, so I checked the actual USDA report. We weren't that far from the top, unfortunately. Mississippi (18.1%), New Mexico (16.1%), Texas (15.9%), and South Carolina (14.7%) were the "winners" in that particular contest. Oklahoma came in at number five (14.6%), with Arkansas, Louisiana, and Utah close behind.

I view basic needs such as adequate food, water, and shelter as fundamental human rights. To quote an old Clash tune, "A lotta people won't get no supper tonight/A lotta people won't get no justice tonight." In that regard, our nation is failing us, as are a number of our state governments - including Oklahoma's.

No comments:

Post a Comment