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U.S. government eliminates hunger in the U.S.A.

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  • U.S. government eliminates hunger in the U.S.A.

    The U.S. government has vowed that Americans will never be hungry again. But they may experience "very low food security."

    Every year, the Agriculture Department issues a report that measures Americans' access to food, and it has consistently used the word "hunger" to describe those who can least afford to put food on the table. But not this year.

    Mark Nord, the lead author of the report, said "hungry" is "not a scientifically accurate term for the specific phenomenon being measured in the food security survey." Nord, a USDA sociologist, said, "We don't have a measure of that condition."

    The USDA said that 12 percent of Americans - 35 million people - could not put food on the table at least part of last year. Eleven million of them reported going hungry at times. Beginning this year, the USDA has determined "very low food security" to be a more scientifically palatable description for that group.

    The United States has set a goal of reducing the proportion of food-insecure households to 6 percent or less by 2010, or half the 1995 level, but it is proving difficult. The number of hungriest Americans has risen over the past five years. Last year, the total share of food-insecure households stood at 11 percent.

    Less vexing has been the effort to fix the way hunger is described. Three years ago, the USDA asked the Committee on National Statistics of the National Academies "to ensure that the measurement methods USDA uses to assess households' access - or lack of access - to adequate food and the language used to describe those conditions are conceptually and operationally sound."

    Among several recommendations, the panel suggested that the USDA scrap the word hunger, which "should refer to a potential consequence of food insecurity that, because of prolonged, involuntary lack of food, results in discomfort, illness, weakness, or pain that goes beyond the usual uneasy sensation."

    To measure hunger, the USDA determined, the government would have to ask individual people whether "lack of eating led to these more severe conditions," as opposed to asking who can afford to keep food in the house, Nord said.

    It is not likely that USDA economists will tackle measuring individual hunger. "Hunger is clearly an important issue," Nord said. "But lacking a widespread consensus on what the word 'hunger' should refer to, it's difficult for research to shed meaningful light on it."

    Anti-hunger advocates say the new words sugarcoat a national shame. "The proposal to remove the word 'hunger' from our official reports is a huge disservice to the millions of Americans who struggle daily to feed themselves and their families," said David Beckmann, president of Bread for the World, an anti-hunger advocacy group. "We . . . cannot hide the reality of hunger among our citizens."

    In assembling its report, the USDA divides Americans into groups with "food security" and those with "food insecurity," who cannot always afford to keep food on the table. Under the old lexicon, that group - 11 percent of American households last year - was categorized into "food insecurity without hunger," meaning people who ate, though sometimes not well, and "food insecurity with hunger," for those who sometimes had no food.

    That last group now forms the category "very low food security," described as experiencing "multiple indications of disrupted eating patterns and reduced food intake." Slightly better-off people who aren't always sure where their next meal is coming from are labeled "low food security."

    That 35 million people in this wealthy nation feel insecure about their next meal can be hard to believe, even in the highest circles. In 1999, Texas Gov. George W. Bush, then running for president, said he thought the annual USDA report - which consistently finds his home state one of the hungriest in the nation - was fabricated.

    "I'm sure there are some people in my state who are hungry," Bush said. "I don't believe 5 percent are hungry."

    Bush said he believed that the statistics were aimed at his candidacy. "Yeah, I'm surprised a report floats out of Washington when I'm running a presidential campaign," he said.

    The agency usually releases the report in the fall, for reasons that "have nothing to do with politics," Nord said.

    This year, when the report failed to appear in October as it usually does, Democrats accused the Bush administration of delaying its release until after the midterm elections. Nord denied the contention, saying, "This is a schedule that was set several months ago."

    Some Americans lack food, but USDA won't call them hungry

  • #2
    CHICAGO, Nov. 15 /U.S. Newswire/ -- According to Household Food Security in the United States released today by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), more than 35 million Americans, including 12 million children, are living in low food secure households. This is an 8 percent decrease in food insecurity over the previous year. However, demands for food assistance remain high. America's Second Harvest-The Nation's Food Bank Network distributed record levels of food over the last year, and Food Stamp Program participation is increasing.

    "It is unacceptable that we have people in the United States who do not have access to food," said Vicki Escarra, president and chief executive officer of America's Second Harvest-The Nation's Food Bank Network. "While the overall numbers of food insecurity are declining, the portion of people who are living in the most dire situations, the very low food insecure households, remains the same."

    According to the study, low food security declined from 11.9 percent of households in 2004 to 11 percent of households in 2005. Very low food security-formerly food insecurity with hunger-remained the same as 2004 levels at 3.9 percent. Almost 1 million fewer households experienced food insecurity in 2005 compared to 2004. Overall, households with children reported food insecurity at almost double the rate for those without.

    "As we approach the holidays, it saddens me to imagine how many people will not be sitting around a table sharing a meal with their families," said Escarra. "The America's Second Harvest Network continues to work 365 days a year to ensure no one goes to bed hungry."

    Hunger in America 2006, the largest, most comprehensive study ever conducted on domestic hunger reported an 8 percent increase in the number of people that the America's Second Harvest Network serves. Nearly 40 percent of clients seeking emergency food assistance from an agency served by the America's Second Harvest Network had at least one adult working. Additionally, more than 40 percent of the clients served report having to choose between paying for utilities or heating fuel and food; 35 percent said they had to choose between paying for rent or a mortgage and food; 32 percent report having to choose between paying for medical bills and food.

    Enrollment in the Food Stamp Program, the largest and most underutilized federal nutrition program, has grown to more than 25 million average participants for Fiscal Year 2005.

    Low food secure households are those that are not able to access enough food to meet basic nutritional requirements. Very low food secure households are those in which one or more household members experienced hunger due to lack of financial resources in the past year.

    For more information on the USDA's "Household Food Security in the United States, 2004" please visit http://www.ers.usda.gov/Publications/ERR29/ERR29.pdf. For more information on Hunger in America, please visit Hunger in America 2006 - Home.

    America's Second Harvest-The Nation's Food Bank Network is the largest charitable domestic hunger-relief organization in the country with a Network of more than 200 Member food banks and food-rescue organizations serving all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. The America's Second Harvest Network secures and distributes more than 2 billion pounds of donated food and grocery products annually; and supports approximately 50,000 local charitable agencies operating more than 94,000 programs including food pantries, soup kitchens, emergency shelters, after-school programs and Kids Cafes. Last year, the America's Second Harvest Network provided food assistance to more than 25 million low-income hungry people in the United States, including 9 million children and nearly 3 million seniors. For more on the America's Second Harvest Network, please visit America's Second Harvest -.

    New Study: 35 million Americans living on the brink of hunger

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    • #3
      USDA study diminishes the condition of hunger that millions of Americans face every day

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