A paradox of plenty – hunger in America

November 24, 2009

Bernd Debusmann—  Bernd Debusmann is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own. —

Call it a paradox of plenty. In the world’s wealthiest country, home to more obese people than anywhere else on earth, almost 50 million Americans struggled to feed themselves and their children in 2008. That’s one in six of the population. Millions went hungry, at least some of the time. Things are bound to get worse.

This the bleak picture drawn from an annual survey on “household food security” compiled by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and released in mid-November. It showed the highest level of food insecurity since the government started the survey, in 1995, and provided a graphic illustration of the effect of sharply rising unemployment.

This year’s picture will be even bleaker – the unemployment rate more than doubled from the beginning of 2008 to now, at 10.2 percent the highest in a quarter century. It is still climbing, and for many the distance between losing a job and lack of food security is very short.

In keeping with the American predilection for euphemisms, the word “hunger” does not appear in the report which classes food security into several categories, from “marginal” and “low” to “very low.”

Marginal food security means, in the lexicon of the USDA, “anxiety over food shortages or shortage of food in the house.” The second category, low, means “reduced quality, variety or desirability of diet,” but not necessarily less food.

The most severe category, “very low,” used to be labeled “food insecurity with hunger” and is defined as “disrupted eating patterns and reduced food intake.” That applied to around 17 million people, up from 12 million in 2007. Black and Hispanic families and single-parent households are the most affected.

It is not the kind of hunger — think African famines, skeletal babies with distended bellies — that brought world leaders to a U.N. food summit in Rome this month to boost aid from rich countries for agricultural development in the Third World. The U.S. is a land of plenty, so much so that a study by the University of Arizona a few years ago found that the average household wastes about 14 percent of their food purchases.

Food is so abundant that overeating is more of a problem, numerically and in terms of public health, than under-nutrition. The Food Research and Action Center, a Washington-based advocacy group, makes the point that “poverty can make people more vulnerable to hunger as well as obesity,” one of the reasons being that food high in calories is cheaper than healthy food. For many  Americans, hunger and obesity are two sides of the same poverty coin.

(International health statistics put the United States at the top of the obesity league. Two-thirds of Americans are overweight and a third of these are obese.)


Vicki Escarra, head of Feeding America, a hunger relief charity that runs 200 food banks in the U.S., has likened the growing difficulties of those on the lower rungs of the socio-economic ladder to conditions in the Third World. She is right in more ways than one.

The USDA report reflects inequality of Third World proportions. While the Great Recession has culled the ranks of American millionaires — by 22 percent according to a September study by the Boston Consulting Group — the gap between rich and poor is not shrinking.

Last year, according to a report by the census bureau, the wealthiest 10 percent of Americans made 11.4 times more than those living on the poverty line. The year before, the ratio was 11.2. At the far end of the economic scale, America’s six largest bank holdings have set aside $112 billion in salaries and bonuses during the first nine months of the year. By year’s end, bonuses might exceed the almost $164 billion paid in 2007, before the credit bubble banks had helped to inflate burst and millions of Americans lost their jobs and savings.

Banks and other financial institutions were rescued by a $700 billion infusion of taxpayer money and news of the bonuses coincided with reports that U.S. wages were at a 19-year low. Which helps explain growing anger among a public long famous for lacking the resentment of the rich that is common in other parts of the world.

After all, a bedrock belief in America held that this is the land of unlimited opportunities where every citizen has an equal chance to succeed and become rich. That requires an assumption that the system is fair. How many Americans still believe that? Last summer, a pair of political scientists, Benjamin Page and Lawrence Jacobs, published a study whose findings included that just 28 percent thought the present distribution of wealth is fair.

More evidence that the gap between myth and reality is shrinking comes from the American Human Development project, a research group which found that “social mobility is now less fluid in the United States than in other affluent nations…a poor child born in Germany, France, Canada or one of the Nordic countries has a better chance to join the middle class in adulthood than an American child born into similar circumstances.”

A better chance to avoid food insecurity, too.

You can contact the author at Debusmann@Reuters.com


We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/

Poverty in America is not a function of failure of society, it is a product of behavior. It is a result of not finishing school, substance abuse, self-destructive behavior and over consumption in “good” times. I’ve watched aliens come to America and within a short time become a “success.”

Posted by KMH | Report as abusive

Food banks are exhausting their supplies. Soup kitchens are experiencing bigger crowds seeking free meals.Most affluent people avoid the central slums of any city. They do not see the squalor that they’ve left behind.The homeless are now experiencing a new challenge: how to find a place to sleep, which is becoming harder to do as at least the state of Massachusetts has drastically cut funding for the poor.

Posted by Bernie | Report as abusive

“Call it a paradox of plenty. In the world’s wealthiest country”…I had to stop reading there. You guys are not even close. The USA is a disgraceful example of greed and selfishness that uncontrolled capitalism will bring to any country. Your massive social problems are a direct consequence of your greed and unwillingness to share within your society and still you can not accept it. Social support is evil right? Losers.

Posted by Sam | Report as abusive

Great article! There are real problems developing in the U.S. and I think Obama is on the right track in dealing with some of them. Wealth is getting more concentrated at the top and is flowing to those who do little of real economic value. The middle class is increasingly growing poor and struggling to hold their lives together. The weight problem proliferates through the middle/lower class who eat cheap fast-food to fill themselves rather than healthy more expensive fare. So many of our nations problems stem from these issues as they manifest themselves in our health care system, legal system etc. all of which are getting ridiculously out-of-whack!

Posted by Brian | Report as abusive

If all the fat people would stop eating so much, maybe there would be enough to go around.

Posted by b | Report as abusive

Mr. Debussman is my favorite Reuters columnist, and this article on hunger in the U.S. is particularly moving. My wish is for him to post a future column that outlines some solutions both governmental/corporate and individual. My sense is that Americans are skeptical of charitable institutions due to many highly publicized scandals (including hunger-focused charities) wherein very little of the donations actually went to the hungry.Two other reasons we don’t act on this problem: (1) we’ve grown too accepting and complacent regarding “soup kitchens”, “food pantries”, and other labels that suggest there’s a ready solution for anyone who’s hungry, if they’ll just humble themselves enought to use them, and (2) the photos used when describing the hungry tend to be of adults, which reinforces the idea that these “able-bodied people” are just shiftless and lazy–the photo used for this column was unusual, as it was a child, and whether or not this was stock footage, the fact remains that it counteracts the “able-bodied” assumption and arouses more compassion.In short, I honestly believe that Americans, Republicans, Democrats and those in between, would take action on the hunger issue if we only knew what steps–societal and individual–would really make a difference.BTW, imagine what would happen if a campaign to fight hunger in America was marketed by the same geniuses who market iPhones, Kindle, or Coke!

Posted by Terry | Report as abusive

There’s lie, and then there’s blatant lie, and then there’s statistics.Even without access to exact numbers, I’d like to clarify the “household food security” stats a bit.Out of 17M counted as “The most severe category”, how many are food stamp recipients? The answer is “most”. Actually, it would be “virtually all” if we don’t count illegal aliens and those caught in violation of food stamp rules and consequently dropped from the program rolls. I know personally some food stamp recipients, and I know that, if planned carefully, the food stamps amount is sufficient to carry the recipient through, and even some are left over to be quietly exchanged for cash one way or another.Now, how many out of the 17M are smokers, or heavy drinkers, or drug users? The answer is “a lot”. If these substance abusers are put before the choice between food for them and their kids, or the substance of their choice, what the choice would likely be? Yep you guessed right.Before implying racism and social injustice, think who these people are, and how they got where they’re now. Hard work, clean life, and strong faith usually don’t take people to the state when they can’t put food on the table. Abuse and reliance on nanny state do. Yes, there are people who fell on hard times because of medical issues, accidents, or simply bad luck, but they are a minority in 17M of people being in “the most severe category”. The majority are there due to their own “efforts” for lack of better term.

Posted by Anonymous | Report as abusive

It really is worth looking at the political party that represents the states with the highest amount of poverty in the US.And I wonder why is that?

Posted by gill | Report as abusive

Compared to Europe, fruit and vegetables are expensive in the US. They’re also not advertised as much as fast food. The proportions are also much, much larger in the US. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw chocolate pies the size of car tires, strawberries the size of apples and 2 liter coke cups.Obese Americans could use more physical exercise as well.

Posted by Martijn | Report as abusive

A recent story on my Public Broadcasting station highlighted a homeless 20 something who admitted selling his food stamps for “weed”. This was possible because he can consistently find three meals per day though local relief agencies. Where is his incentive to change?

Posted by LBJ | Report as abusive

AnonymousYou read like someone who has never known struggle. Or if you have known these kinds of struggles you were at least surrounded by people willing to lend a helping hand in some fashion.That doesn’t much happen in the inner cities. Our economic system is plagued with thieves. You call them corporations. They are citizens under US law. With all of the money at their disposal they make sure that their interests are secured before and, or, at the expense of true citizens.Corporate citizenship is a scourge on society. These “citizens” are sociopaths. They care only for money and profit. They have only one responsibility which is to increase share holder value. Because profit is the only motivation they understand, responsibility and good citizenship are not and will not ever be part of their mission.They siphon money out of the system and leave massive debt behind. Now whole families go hungry. They are forced to buy the cheapest foods available in order to make their money stretch. These low grade foods eventually cause disease which places more stress on the health care system ( such as it is).Kids who don’t eat well do poorly in school. And teens that don’t eat well leave school in order to pay the bills. And don’t think that most of them go into legal jobs either.An inner city drug dealer can make enough money to pay his family’s bills and put food on the table. And no one can blame those people that choose that path. There is no reason for them to show loyalty to a system that has failed them.Corporate thieves get to keep their ill gotten profit and apologize. Poor criminals get thrown in prison. And then those who’s survival depended on that income are left without.Society teaches us that “cash is king”. And then we wonder why people don’t care about each other.

Posted by Benny Acosta | Report as abusive

Some of these responses are pathetic.Anonymous: Your entire argument is baseless, trying to tie together substance/alcohol abuse behavior to keeping people in poverty just shows you have lived with a silver spoon in your mouth. Many people don’t turn to substance abuse and alcohol until they are in poverty, not only that some people are born into it, so where is the correlation there?b: The answer isn’t as simple as fat people stop eating so others can eat. Some people are under nourished while still being fat. Go to a supermarket with $1 and see what you can get that will provide the most calories, it is not going to be in the produce aisle I assure you.KMH: Using pretty little phrases doesn’t mean you make sense. I’ve watched aliens come into the US and come out worse then where they came from, so pointing to a couple success stories says nothing.The whole food issue is far too massive to pin on a couple cute solutions. Good article though and definitely food for thought.

Posted by Moose | Report as abusive

This is more nonsense by the liberal media. Everything, except the current administration, is fine in America. We are better off than every other country in every way. God bless America and support our troops.

Posted by Michelle Malkin | Report as abusive

For the last 50 years we’ve been importing poverty from over the border and subsidizing the poverty that was already here. Now we’re wondering why there’s so many poor people around. Yeah, that one’s a real brain-buster.

Posted by OliverClotheshoffe | Report as abusive

I don’t consider the extreme wealth distribution in this country a paradox. “Free” trade, outsourcing and immigration put the American middle class in competition with slave labor all over the world with the result that the “middle” class hasn’t had a raise in 30 years after adjusting for inflation while job growth has stagnated. By definition, the average IQ is 100 so half the population will never be movers and shakers but must have jobs that require mostly manual labor (skilled and unskilled) which is becoming scarcer and scarcer for Americans.This country is now owned by big worldwide corporations and I don’t think there’s any turning back. We have shot ourselves in both feet and the blood will continue to run.

Posted by Ray | Report as abusive

An obese friend of mine just got back from Disneyland and said he was shocked to see so many obeses twice as big as himself everywhere. He said many of them were no longer walking… they just use small karts to move themself around carrying huge bottles of coke and eating fries. Out of breath fat kids trying to catch up with their parent’s karts… Those guys just roll themselves from McDo to another McDo. That’s pathetic. USA! USA! USA! lol

Posted by Canuck | Report as abusive

as far as being obese lets talk about health care reform right there…..the poor have been with every society to me if a person had a piece of land and a shelter the tools for survival would be there so the truth of whether one would ever do anything to get themselves out of the situation they are in would be shown in a more pure way instead of going with the status quo of college job white picket fence etc which is fine but the “choice” defines a society of freedom which i believe our constitution is trying to give us instead of a society dominated by corpratism and imperialism with progressivley higher income taxes versus a shrinking middle class

Posted by kameha | Report as abusive

One wealthy US Industrialist,with great clout in that country and the rest of the World,is reported to have said,at the end of the 60s of the last Century,that the USA,would be de-industrialized.He should have known what he was speaking about and its consequences.This planned destruction of the US Citizens is deplorable and raises apprehensions that the same would happen in other nations of the World.

Posted by sadasivan | Report as abusive

More evidence that the gap between myth and reality is shrinking comes from the American Human Development project, a research group which found that “social mobility is now less fluid in the United States than in other affluent nations…a poor child born in Germany, France, Canada or one of the Nordic countries has a better chance to join the middle class in adulthood than an American child born into similar circumstances.”

Posted by Ken bin Ken | Report as abusive

Many people do not think of fast food as a killer. The problem is that fast food kills slowly and painfully, through the development of many chronic sickness that sucks the national healthcare funds dry.

Posted by scheng1 | Report as abusive

It’s a question of priorities.Apparently it was more important to some people to subsidize an ailing, corrupt insurance corporation in 2008 than to feed and clothe everyone in the United States.Apparently it was more important to the same people that (radioactive) waste be laid to vast tracts of Mesopotamian archaeology and that agonizing death be wrought upon generations of Middle Eastern civilians and U.S. American military personnel than to feed, clothe and give a free Rolls-Royce to every single individual on the planet.The worst obesity problems facing America are fat-headed leadership, and how long the general populace will go on lazily believing that their alleged leadership has anything of value to offer society as a whole, that this sort of leadership has any purpose in life besides feeding only the Rich.

Posted by The Bell | Report as abusive

I went hungry last night when the wait at Red Lobster was more than 45 minutes! It seems that the key to long life is a little starvation- people who are on the verge of starvation, but not starving to death, live much longer. Hopefully the stats in the US are true, as a people, we would be better off for it. Starvation only hurts if you starve to death, otherwise it is a good motivator to get out of poverty.

Posted by Claude Slagenhop | Report as abusive

Apparently, it is more important to waste money on war, endless war. The president is committing a bankrupt country to fight a Wall St war paid for by taxpayers; another 30,000 soldiers to the graveyard of civilizations. what is the war about? killing who? Bin Laden? Al Queda? Taliban (who we funded and created). The USA is not the country it used to be, in fact, its not even a country anymore. It’s a collective of duped citizens who believe we have a government protecting them, when in fact it is really the Incorporated States of America owned, rented, controlled by multinational greedy corporations who make money on killing and starving us. They take everything, your homes, your lives, your children, the air over your head, the water from the clouds, the earth under your feet, and your soul and mind. The USA is only a mercenary, a puppet, for multinational corps and a new world “order” as they call it. this writing is from a normal middle class american, not a wacko.

Posted by Kat will in man | Report as abusive

What in the world does executive compensation have to do with hunger? (Hint: Asolutely nothing!) Kind of a clumsy, transparent play of the class envy card there! What rubbish! Absolutely no one in America has to go hungry. Food Stamps, free school lunches (and free health clinics too, btw!)and meals at shelters are readily available. The sad reality is that the Democrat’s liberal policies, beginning with LBJ’s “Great Society”, have had the unintended result of perpetuating and expanding an underclass dependent on government handouts. The saddest fact is that so many have been propagandized to believe they can not make it on their own, particularly among African Americans. This explains survey results suggesting many think the system is not fair.The assertion that Americans have less upward mobility is flat ridiculous. For God’s sake, a black man with no talent or experience was just elected president! Affirmative action programs and financial aid programs based on need are robust and wide spread. Most anyone who does not succeed in America has only themselves to blame.

Posted by DanDetroit | Report as abusive

btw-In addition to adequate nutrition,even those considered below the “poverty level” in the U.S. typically have housing, one or more cars, cell phones and air conditioning!

Posted by DanDetroit | Report as abusive

I am mostly appalled that The Bell was forced to wait 45 minutes for a scrumptious feast from the Red Lobster. And now being reminded of Red Lobster, I am off to Red Lobster.

Posted by alvin | Report as abusive

Does anyone here complaining about the system ever even donate to the food banks? They need money and they’ll take anything they can get.I donate to 3. Yeah, it sometimes means not going to restaurants and movies (which are both grossly overpriced) but I just can’t turn my back on people I know are hungry. We can be a part of the problem or the solution, but I get so tired of people complaining about how bad this country is. Move then!

Posted by Katherine | Report as abusive

Very interesting article with 100% of reality as a “Paradox”Congratulations for the author.In my understanding, I believe that worse is coming. Less and less people are representing middle class. Without middle class no any society has any progress. Now only Greed and Greed is the “Importance Of Being Earnest”People who are preparing “Codex Alimentarius” GM Food, damaged catastrophically our planet1. 27 billion running lawsuit for dumping toxins by Texaco – presently Chevron in Amazon, Ecuador2. Alberta Oil Sands the worst and biggest, present individual pollutant in the world according to Gore. Although President Obama is scheduled to participate in Copenhagen debate, the Canadian Prime Minister is going to be absent. How many natural resources are destroyed (soil, fish, animals – real food).The worst thing that so many bad things promoted by big corporations who have now power over governments are legally free for making our planet worse and worse in thesake of greed.

Posted by Ted M. Konewka | Report as abusive

I expect that the “Powers That Be” who run this Country will give us more Circus to make up for the diminished Bread.

Posted by D Sakarya | Report as abusive

There is hunger, homelessness, and growing numbers of those without health care in America. And until we address the real causes, the shame will continue.Instead of blaming the victims of unfettered capitalism for their failure to adapt into the predatory system, we should blame the system for failing to provide the opportunities for living a life without the shame and disgrace of poverty.Living in the land of plenty and being cold, hungry and homeless is totally unacceptable. If the system can not meet the needs of the society, then society owes no allegiance to that system.I already know what the defenders of selfishness and greed will say about me, but it doe not matter. There will be enough of those who read this to understand where I’m coming from.It’s about responsibility being a shared concept, not a top down, finger pointing, tongue clicking, elitist member of the “ownership society” trying to blame the less fortunate for their own situation. So….The economy should fit the needs of the people, not the people serving the greed of the “ownership society”.

Posted by awfton | Report as abusive

Hungry and obese.With the prevailing trend according to studies Americans will be 85% obese by 2040.Obesity is a problem of modern life providing excessive food and machinery that replace human exercise.The challenge is to develop awareness on healthy lifestyles eating less when food is so abundant and keep working when machinery can do everything.Education is just helping people to get more money but not using their knowledge on their own good.Even the General Surgeon is obese. A physician that failed to use her background on her own good is leading Americans on healthy issues.The truth is that developed countries are having problems with the food system as well and with the economic issues.It seems that poor countries can afford neither fast food nor a flawed economic system that greed and fear mars simple laws of offer and demand.There is no doubt of an ongoing widespread failure on global leadership in order to protect simple principles of human existence.We are molding a new landscape we were not prepared to deal with but time will teach us the nature functioning required to keep going.

Posted by Elson Silva, PhD | Report as abusive

What unadulterated bullshit! 50 mil go hungry! Get a life. I am sick and tired of crazies getting a free ride in the press. Make something sound bad enought and we will print it. enough already.

Posted by Phil | Report as abusive

DATA below from 2004. Anyone know what it is now?The top 1% of families owned 37% of all stocks, 62% of all closely held businesses, and 47% of nonresidential real estate. Percentages for the bottom 90% were 21%, 10%, and 24%, respectively.America’s 112 million families had combined wealth of $50.3 trillion in 2004. When those families are ranked by the size of their wealth, however, the top 1% alone held $16.8 trillion in wealth, more than a third of the United States’ total wealth and more than the $15.3 trillion held by 90% of U.S. families. The top 1% had average wealth of $15 million per family in contrast to the $22,800 average wealth of the least wealthy 50% of families or the $313,500 in wealth for families ranked between 50% and 90%.Homes accounted for more than a third of American families’ assets. Primary residences are the asset with the least-skewed ownership, with the top 1% owning primary homes worth $1.9 trillion and the bottom 90% owning $11.8 trillion. That is not the case, however, when it comes to ownership of second homes, a far greater source of wealth for the top 1% ($1.1 trillion) than the bottom 90% ($0.02 trillion).

Posted by Louise H | Report as abusive

Flawed methodology, class warfare and misleading stats. If ‘hunger’ includes people *worried* about putting food on the table, then it’s all pure BS. So that 50 million number is simply manufactured out of whole cloth. And its worse, if you miss a single meal during the year, for nearly ANY reason, it can be included in the stat. Even 1 meal on 1 day.In other words, this is misleading propaganda and not worthy of coverage. Reuters should be ashamed.

Posted by Penguintopia | Report as abusive

[…] The Great Debate

Posted by The social contract has failed? | Report as abusive

[…] Call it a paradox of plenty. In the world

Posted by The Bush Legacy: A paradox of plenty – hunger in America – Politics and Other Controversies – Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians, Conservatives, Liberals, Third Parties, Left-Wing, Right-Wing, Congress, President – City-Data Forum | Report as abusive

DID YOU KNOW:If each person on the planet was given an equal amount of Earth’s global resources, the average standard of living possessed by each person would be equal to a lower class mexican slum dweller.This average standard lowers yearly, as Earth’s population expands larger. By 2050 if each person was given an equal share of resources, the average standard of living will be equal to a starving african adult.Essentially, the only way to eradicate poverty is to make everyone equally destitute.

Posted by Friendly Fact | Report as abusive

These are good questions, but they are certainly not uniquely American. I am an American who has lived in Europe for the last five years. Net real (purchasing power) pay for the normal citizen here is much lower here than in the U.S. and food is much more expensive, both prepared and at the grocery store. People eat less here, for sure. I eat like a normal American and am thinner than average, but coworkers are constantly commenting on how much I eat!Standards for what is considered “hungry” in North America are much, much lower than anywhere in the world. Once again, the U.S. is, ironically, both the proudest and the most self-depricating nation on earth.

Posted by Zooropa | Report as abusive

“What in the world does executive compensation have to do with hunger? (Hint: Asolutely nothing!) Kind of a clumsy, transparent play of the class envy card there! What rubbish! Absolutely no one in America has to go hungry. Food Stamps, free school lunches (and free health clinics too, btw!)”Dan,executive compensation would not be a problem if it weren’t paid for by money that was supposed to go towards securing the interests of the citizenry. Those free school lunches and free health clinics depend mostly on government subsidies. Where will that money come from when it’s going to finance war and destruction?Class envy indeed. Try living on the services you mentioned. See how far you get. You obviously have no idea what it’s like. Have YOU done anything to help provide for those school lunches and free clinics? And don’t give me the tired answer that you pay taxes. Every person pays taxes unless they make no money at all, or are wealthy enough to avoid it.Your comments are the epitome of the selfishness that has caused so much suffering in our nation. If you are fortunate maybe you too can be one of the poor you despise so much. Then you will gain some perspective and hopefully a little wisdom.

Posted by Benny Acosta | Report as abusive

[…] Call it a paradox of plenty. In the world

Posted by The Bush Legacy: A paradox of plenty – hunger in America – Politics and Other Controversies – Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians, Conservatives, Liberals, Third Parties, Left-Wing, Right-Wing, Congress, President – City-Data Forum | Report as abusive

[…] Call it a paradox of plenty. In the world

Posted by The Bush Legacy: A paradox of plenty – hunger in America – Politics and Other Controversies – Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians, Conservatives, Liberals, Third Parties, Left-Wing, Right-Wing, Congress, President – City-Data Forum | Report as abusive

There is an answer to unrestricted accumulation of wealth at the expense of the masses. It is called ‘communism’. This is when the long downtrodden poor seize the means of production and liquidate the rich as a class. Only now the means of production are being exported from the country to slave nations. When the great awakening occurs, and it now seems inevitable with only the ‘when’ unknown, the people will find their factories….gone! They will also find the holders of the ‘paper’, the so called ‘intellectual property’, the so called ‘rights to manufacture’, the so called ‘rights to distribute or sell’ ….gone to foreign ‘safe havens’. These will be some island somewhere protected by treaties among all the rich nations so that a revolt among one will be met, Metternich style, by war and invasion from all the others. This strategy will fail, just like it did in 1848, when multiple nations become involved and conflicting national ambitions down the pacts. Getting at those of the wealthy class will be difficult, and deadly, and the longer the rich hold out and steal from the people, the much more thorough the extermination of them when the days of reckoning finally come. Along with the liquidation of the rich will be, as this time lengthens, the concommitant annhilation of their lackeys and useful fools and fellow travelers will also become more determined. This will be an action among billions of people and inexorable as a slow motion train wreck. Leaders of the popular rage when found, betrayed, or whatever will almost instantly be replaced by others. Put ‘commies’ in jail, they will convert the entire contents of the places. Kill them and they will be martyrs to the masses in a social event that will make the French Revolution seem like an ice cream social.

Posted by Chester Drawers | Report as abusive

Sometimes folks have to make sacrifices to purchase that 98 inch flat screen tv or the latest xbox game.Let them make their choices, but please stop with the guilt trip. I already feel guilty for racism, sexism, homophobia, and the destruction of the environment. I can’t handle the responsibility of being guilty for yet another critical issue like hunger.

Posted by Mike | Report as abusive

Another nut case. Americans are doing fine. Everyone feels obliged to ‘rescue’ the other guy, take care of yourself pops.

Posted by funnominal | Report as abusive

DanDetroit: “btw-In addition to adequate nutrition,even those considered below the “poverty level” in the U.S. typically have housing, one or more cars, cell phones and air conditioning!Yes, Dan, they are descendants and new versions of Ronald Reagan’s Cadillac-driving Welfare Queen. But it is worth remembering that she turned out to be a queen of fiction.

Posted by Elvira | Report as abusive

The report identifies blacks and hispanics as especially hard hit. Well, blacks are well into their 4th decade of 60-70% illegitimate birthrate and hispanics, the large majority being immigrants and also with a 50% illegitimate birthrate are right on their tale. Johnson’s Great Society has created generations of government dependent poor. For those railing about the cost of war, social spending annually dwarfs what is being spent on the military. America has plenty of resources but it is not limitless. Most of this problem is the result of being born or immigrated directly into poverty and will not be solved until we address this root cause.

Posted by Fraque | Report as abusive

The Bell is Absolutely Right. Let’s re-distribute wealth by lowering or eliminating our leaderships fat retirement packages and corporate ceos bonuses.

Posted by Michele | Report as abusive

In my opinion, this article seem me very interesting and thoughtful, it must be publicized in more accessible sources to American people, but any way, America is not just USA is America.We say God bless America and God bless us. When things are not going well, we all need pray together. Poverty will never disappear in this world, but we need to find some palliatives in order to decrease its growing. It’s shameful seeing many homeless everyday and talking about scarceness of food.

Posted by kerim duran | Report as abusive

In my opinion, this article seem me very interesting and thoughtful, it must publicized in more accessible sources toward American people, but anyway, America is not just USA any more, is America. We say God bless America and God bless us. When things are not going well, we all need to pray together. Poverty will never disappear in this world but as soon as possible, we need to find some effective palliative measures in order to decrease its growing and avoid a fatal chaos.

Posted by kerim e. Duran Sr. | Report as abusive

The united states subsidies the growing of crops that end up in unhealthy foods Which in turn makes unhealthy food cheap. When your poor and struggling to feed your family you have no option but to eat the cheapest most available food. Because of the subsidies this makes the cheapest food low in nutrition and high in calories/fat.If the US government was to subsidies the growing of whole grain, fruit and vegetables; and lower the subsidies on factory-farmed meat. The poor would be forced into a healthy diet which is high in nutrition. Then, obesity would be a preserve of the rich and the working classes could get back to working and making the countries wealth. Hunger would be cut down too because even though the poor would still be eating only a little, the food would nourish them much more.

Posted by Daz | Report as abusive

I challenege the author to do a four-hour shift at a Walmart register,to see for himself first-hand the amount of chips/sodas/ice cream/candy purchased with the ‘food stamp’ cards.Those not working the system are probably not aware the full months’ allotment of ‘food stamp’ money may be used on sodas and chips.Several weeks ago,I was behind a 20-something man in the check-out line who paid for the following with food stamp card; 8 custom-cut rib-eyes,3 heads of lettuce,assorted tomatoes/onions/bell peppers, 5 varieties of salad dressing,butter ( NOT margarine), 5 loaves of French bread from deli,3 cartons of ‘upscale’ ice cream…then after food was rung up,the obligatory 2 cases of beer,a carton of cigarettes and 4 bags of charcoal for his cook-out.The store I patronize has a large number of college students employed there; they relate tales of 25 candy bars,birthday cakes,$12 per lb. crab salad purchases with food stamp card-and wonder why the hell THEY’RE working in order to give junk food to those who won’t work.

Posted by A.Mitchell | Report as abusive

This is another variation of the climate change scam. Having worked for a food bank, it is all a numbers game. US poverty is not like third world poverty. Those folks would love to be as poor as US poor. Questions to ask – do these folks have cell phones, bathrooms, running water, electricity,TV, cable/dish, are their kids going to school (if not why not) cars/trucks or access to transportation, access to doctors and medicine (that is a yes thanks due to emergency rooms and laws). This is prime fundraising time for food not for profits. Once Thanksgiving is over, you will not here about food but toys.

Posted by silverbelle1008 | Report as abusive

[…] paradox of plenty – hunger in America The Great Debate

Posted by A paradox of plenty – hunger in America – Offtopicz | Report as abusive

[…] and economic growth. As it is now with capitalism you are already experiencing poverty. The Great Debate Debate Archive A paradox of plenty – hunger in America | The Great Debate | Maybe socialist policies will solve this […]

Posted by Why is socialism a bad thing? – Page 7 | Report as abusive

I believe Bill Hicks said it best:”The world is like a ride in an amusement park, and when you choose to go on it you think it’s real because that’s how powerful our minds are. The ride goes up and down, around and around, it has thrills and chills, and it’s very brightly colored, and it’s very loud, and it’s fun for a while. Many people have been on the ride a long time, and they begin to wonder, “Hey, is this real, or is this just a ride?” And other people have remembered, and they come back to us and say, “Hey, don’t worry; don’t be afraid, ever. Because this is just a ride.” And we…kill those people. “Shut him up! I’ve got a lot invested in this ride, shut him up! Look at my furrows of worry, look at my big bank account, and my family. This has to be real.” It’s just a ride. But we always kill the good guys who try and tell us that, you ever notice that? And let the demons run amok? But it doesn’t matter, because it’s just a ride. And we can change it any time we want. It’s only a choice. No effort, not work, no job, no savings of money. Just a simple choice, right now, between fear and love. The eyes of fear want you to put bigger locks on your doors, buy guns, close yourself off. The eyes of love instead see all of us as one. Here’s what we can do to change the world, right now, to a better ride. Take all that money we spend on weapons and defenses each year and instead spend it feeding and clothing and educating the poor of the world, which it would pay for many times over, not one human being excluded, and we could explore space, together, both inner and outer, forever, in peace.”Fear or love.

Posted by Dylan Holly | Report as abusive

Fraque – I’m sorry but where did you get your data? At over 1/2 of a TRILLION dollars per YEAR, the US military budget as large as the rest of the world combined and dwarfs any social spending we try to pretend to take seriously.

Posted by reutersme | Report as abusive

That requires an assumption that the system is fair. How many Americans still believe that?If you do a similiar reaearch in China, you’ll know how fair America is!

Posted by Monicaliu | Report as abusive

I am from vancouver,canada and i wanted to say that the problem is not a shortage of food,there is enough food to go around.It is the method of distribution of goods that causes the problem.Food and agricultral monopolies make millions of dollars while people go without food.Trade between rich countries and third world countries only benefits the rich countries.Unless this changes there will always be millions of people without food.The way food is distributed now only benefits a minority of people.It is an insult to the majority of people in the world.The people who says that they are going to end the hunger problem are hypocrits and liars.

Posted by stan squires | Report as abusive

Dylan HollyThe truth of what you posted is too much for a lot of people. But it is absolutely true.Too many people still exist only as reasoning animals and have not come into the fullness of their humanity. So they fight amongst themselves and horde what they can like starving beasts. But the ability to reason makes them much worse than any animal could be.When those reasoning animals finally realize that they are human things will change for the better. But while they remain in the majority there will be suffering and death until all is consumed.

Posted by Benny Acosta | Report as abusive

For Bernd and anyone else that cares to listen. If you want to see people not starve or freeze to death then go through your pantry and clean out all the items that have been rat holed. Same goes for your closet. Then get in your car and drive to the poorest part of town and donate those items to a needy case. I wouldn’t give money though, or put the money into a government program, because neither will be used as intended. That is just a fact of life. Case in point my dad once gave me $5 dollars and I blew it. Then one day I had to earn the $5 dollars and I valued it, and myself, much more.

Posted by buddy | Report as abusive

i can relate to this story since i was laid off from my job back in March (40hrs/wk, $16/hr, no benefits) and have had trouble finding a job since and have actually started to charge food and/or gasoline on a credit card because unemployment isn’t enough to cover all the bills, and i don’t spend money on needless things like some do, i am really having a time HELP I’m hungry

Posted by Mike | Report as abusive

Phil, this article is based upon a survey.My question, how come the world’s wealthiest country is ostensibly illiquid and insolvent ?

Posted by Casper | Report as abusive

The ever growing shortage of potable water will bring the reality of the problem to all very soon now.How long can you go without water?How long can you go without oil?It takes water, oil and family farmers to grow food!Reality will not be denied long!

Posted by James | Report as abusive

While I do believe that some citizens are hungry, I don’t remember ever having to step over dead bodies in the street. There are a multitude of government social programs plus charitable organizations helping those who need help. While this country is far from perfect, show me one that is. It’s time to stop bashing America and her citizens already…it’s rapidly becoming unfashionable. Those that live and breath to appear fashionable are finally beginning to look like the fools they are.

Posted by Kathy | Report as abusive

The billions handed to banks is not a proxy for consumption of resources, i.e. food. It’s just a paper figure passed from the government to the banks. Why care about it unless you figure someone else deserves the same handout?The anxiety the USDA talks about is the worry about how to con the government out of more money for no work.USDA figures are inflated because it’s Obama’s administration. Obama promises redistribution of wealth.USDA’s mission has gone from productive farming to handing out food. What does a bureaucracy do but justify doing more of the same?”A poor child born in America has less chance …” Which one? The one of ambition or the one told he is poor because of his heritage? (Convenient excuse for his parents poverty) No amount of work can change your ancestors therefore work is useless.

Posted by Douglas | Report as abusive

Wake up America to what you have become: the greatest dream gone wrong that the world has ever seen.

Posted by Richard T | Report as abusive

Mike said” and i don’t spend money on needless things like some do, i am really having a time HELP I’m hungry”Tip One: Sell your computer and stop paying for the internet.

Posted by drewbie | Report as abusive

I’m a big Bernd fan but I also agree this just sounds like exaggerated fearmongering to me, most of his work is much better.A more relevent problem is shift of the middle class into the lower class.Why is this happening? Lack of education.We live in a country where people base their lives off of religious dogmas and take the words of preachers over the words of educators.Who educates us? Government, does government do anything well? NoThe best con government has going for them are these false left vs right, conservative vs liberal, democrat vs repbulican lies. Democrats and Republicans are exactly the same, both of them don’t care about you all they care about are how to pay back their corporate buddies for the bribes, whoops I mean “campaign contributions.”Obama doesn’t care about giving healthcare to every child, he cares about drug companies and and insurance companies further bankrupting mainstream america to make another .1% profit margin.Bush didn’t care about keeping america safe, he wanted his and Cheney’s trust funds to grow through Halleburton and other corporate pals increasing stock prices.There’s no such thing as a left and right, there’s no such thing as conservative and liberal, it’s all corporatism.Like I said earlier, government controls education. Maybe the most important subject every kid needs to learn before getting a job is finance, so they know how to manage money. Does government want a financially well educated public? Of course not.Lol that was quite a tangent I went on, my way of trying to change a silly blog into one more in tune with reality with mainstream america.

Posted by Michael Ham | Report as abusive

Food comes from farms. Any discussion of food politics must recognize that reality. I think that the biggest challenge is to inform people of the fact that food does not originate in stores. Rather, a small minority of our population is engaged in the business of food production, namely farming. Our urban majority owes it to themselves to research and study the source of their food. That action might prevent some nasty surprises.

Posted by E Curry | Report as abusive

When I see people standing in line for free food most of them are fat and chatting on cell phones. If you are dependent on government handouts meaning theft from others then God help you if Asians take over this country or Mexicans. They can’t be made to feel guilty like white liberals…

Posted by death | Report as abusive

I’m English, but I would have thought the USA would have natural resources like the UK does that could be licensed so all Americans can have basic levels of income and health care. We license things like the airwaves for television and cellphones, farmers have to have a license to drill for water, Oil companies have to have a license to drill for oil. There are many more and the government gives out the proceeds in theory as child benefit which helps to alleviate child poverty. A minimum income for older people and help with housing, property tax and heating in winter.The problem with keeping poor people; poor, is they don’t spend money in the stores owned by the wealthy and that leads to recession. They also tend to default on mortgages when the housing bubbles burst because they tend to be the ones with sub prime mortgages. They not only suffer the indignity of food stamps but lose their homes and jobs too.It’s the economics of recession, boom and bust economics; where bubbles are encouraged to inflate property prices, oil prices and commodities and then the bubble bursts. The USA could be in for a prolonged recession and the poorest will suffer, unless the president actually does redistribute wealth.

Posted by Mike10613 | Report as abusive

What percentage of this 50 million figure are non-citizens?

Posted by DavetheCanuckiRepub | Report as abusive

Could it be that government assistance organizations are part of the problem?Perhaps the creation of agencies to help those who have fallen through the net has caused the neglect of the net itself, a sort of “that’s a government responsibility, not my problem” kind of attitude. Certainly closing the communication gap between those in need and those providing the lifeline would reduce inefficiency and create more goodwill.If we choose to have someone else hand out our charitable contributions we must expect people we deem “undeserving” are going to receive them, and that some deserving people are going to get overlooked in the paperwork.

Posted by Jared | Report as abusive

I live in one of the poorest major cities in America, Cleveland Ohio. Admittedly, I’m a middle-class American with no fear of hunger (unless I get down-sized, which is always a scary possibility in America) at the moment. However, I think the notion that 1 in 6 Americans is “hungry” is exaggerated. Hunger is a serious issue for many of the poorest Americans, true. However, many of the Americans claiming difficult with their food supply have little problem paying their cell phone bill, high-speed internet, cable TV subscription (with movie channels), iTunes charges, and other personal media monthly payments that account for as much as 20% of the average American’s budget. Like another person said, most of the people I see in lower-income sections of the city I live in are overweight, chatting on their cell phones, buying cigarettes and alcohol (both of which are extremely expensive here), and driving new cars (complete with GPS). The problem is America is not lack of food…it is lack of education, rampant consumerism, our fear-mongering news media, and a government more interested in “right vs. left” politics that actual solving our countries ills. Americans consider food and basic necessities to be “extras” in their budget. My own sister needs to borrow money from my parents to buy groceries, after she has already paid her expensive rent, SUV payment, and assortment of extra monthly expenses. The newest flat-screen TV, cell phone model, and MP3 players are the American “bread and butter” today. All of which require ridiculously high monthly payments. I won’t even get into the American obsession with credit card debt, which takes up another giant slice of the average American’s food budget! Until the bread-and-circus culture of America ceases to dazzle the uneducated masses, our country will continue to appear to be a “paradox of plenty”.

Posted by Michael | Report as abusive

The scary thing about extreme wealth disparity is that it may be a greater cause of our recent Great Recession than financial bucaneering. When the masses cannot buy the goods produced by an economy, fewer goods are produced, thereby creating a snowballing effect. If a store doesn’t have enough customers to sustain itself it follows that it must shut down its buysiness. So the Goldman Sachs (and similar) salaries and bonuses are not only obscene, they are ultimately destructive of the economy. (PS: I’m not poor but I’m honest.)

Posted by Doug | Report as abusive

Until the majority of Americans realize they are once again on the road to serfdom it will only get worse. The huge multinational companies and the banks have been given the gift of enormous amounts of taxpayer dollars for decades. They are like some huge carnivore completely out of control. The bail outs far exceeded the $700 billion so casually mentioned in the mainstream news, not to mention the damage they have done to millions of people in causing them to lose homes, jobs, savings and self respect in America and around the world.When the average citizen gets a loan from a bank they are required to pay it back, the multinational companies and banks get your tax dollars as a gift and never pay it back. Time to turn the tables??

Posted by Don B | Report as abusive

I really think it’s worth emphasizing that, as Mr. Debusmann mentions, “overeating” and “under-nutrition” are not opposites but often positively correlated. The cheapest foods are almost pure calories — usually severely lacking in trace nutrients. This situation is pretty much opposite the experience of poverty in history, when food shortage meant you ate stuff with more dirt and roughage rather than less. It’s possible that lack of trace nutrients causes the body to store food energy in fat cells until such time as it has enough other nutrients to use it.See “Poverty and obesity: the role of energy density and energy costs”, Drewnowski and Specter 2004 (http://www.ajcn.org/cgi/reprint/79/1/6) .

Posted by octopod | Report as abusive

See the film clip of “The end of Poverty” on you tube.Go to www.theendofpoverty.com and start a petition to get the film brought to a theater near you or do a screening at your home or office.

Posted by Catherine Campbell | Report as abusive

I’ve read people use the argument that the poor in this country live better than poor in other parts of the world. That’s not saying much. We like are bad news with a little bit of sugar to make go down easier.We have shelters, and a few soup kitchens and think that everything will be fine for the poor. Our poor get the scraps we leave behind. They’re scraps because we don’t want them. So like we do for our dogs, we give our scraps to the poor.In our culture they don’t deserve respect or help of any kind. These are our brothers and sisters that have fallen upon difficult times. But we prefer not to see them that way. To see them as brothers and sisters would be to expose the truth about ourselves and how we behave towards each other and we don’t want to see THAT.So what they “live better”. Those who pose that argument should go and spend some time living as one of them. Then they can make all the arguments they want about how much better it is.The same power that causes them to draw breath and life is the same power that resides within you. The poor are a reflection of the minds and hearts of those in society.If you don’t care about someone then that one can live or die and it makes no difference to you. Collectively we seem to care only for ourselves. Until something happens in our neighborhoods. Neighborhoods, I might add, where even most of the neighbors could care less about each other. The poor are the responsibility of ALL people. Because as long as poverty exists, ANY ONE OF YOU could fall into it. And then who will help you?

Posted by Benny Acosta | Report as abusive

Evidently most affluent Americans still subscribe to the notion of social Darwinism.

Posted by Anubis | Report as abusive

I would love to see the survey questions. I have some that should have been asked. For example, after the respondant stated that they didn’t have enough to eat, I would have asked about:1. Do you have a cell phone?2. Do you have cable television?3. How many times did you eat out last month?4. Do your purchase cigarettes?5. Do you purchase alcohol?6. Do you purchase lottery tickets?While I have no doubt that there are hungry Americans, I also have no doubt the 75-90% are hungry because of misplaced priorities.

Posted by Old Soldier | Report as abusive

Hunger is a function of the lack of fund delivered to where it is needed for development of facilities needed for a healthy life. Too much money diverted to save Isreal and to control oil reserves of the Middle East for the few with vested interests have left hunger amongst Americans who can’t afford to buy their food. Obesity is self created to satisfy the “empty” personal needs while lacking the avenues for proper exercises.Till these needs are met, the situation will get worse as the cycle of ill health, obesity and poverty set in.

Posted by siburp | Report as abusive

“What percentage of this 50 million figure are non-citizens?”A hungry person is a hungry person. And how does coming across as a arsejack help?

Posted by ed | Report as abusive

This is serious! Fat people worried about not having enough junk food in the fridge for the evening! And yes, it’s all because of those evil successful people who pay for it all.Oh noo! where can I give more money than I’m already taxed to help these gastropods get even fatter?

Posted by Steve | Report as abusive

Well, I’ll never go hungry. Im good looking, smart and rich, and I work in Banking.My family are respectable pillars of the community, and we go to church every sunday.I attended a prestigious private college, and I know all the right people.The American Dream is a reality, I assure you.Winthorpe A King III

Posted by Winthorpe | Report as abusive

I am not sure what the article author’s ultimate goal is, but what he writes is an outright lie. There are no poor peope in this country, unless he counts a few junkies or mental institution dropouts who are no longer capable to maintain a normal living. They are adifferent story.the rest are our liability, and should be shamed and not appeased. I know because my family came to this country wth $93 in our pocket and a little toddler to be taken care of. We were scared, young, inexperienced, but willing to work and observe what others do to make living. So we did. We are not wealthy, but we had enough common sense to buy a house that we can actually afford, adjust our budget to our incomes, etc.

Posted by ResentfulofLies | Report as abusive

ResentfulofLiesYou came here with basically nothing and so you had appreciation for the little things that you had. Those who come up in our culture are not taught to be appreciative.We grew up in a country where everything is being sold to you from the day you take your first breath. If you pay attention you will notice that everything is a commercial. Everyone wants you to buy what they offer.And in many cases if you do not have a minimum of material possessions you will not be allowed to participate in many areas of life. You need a cell phone or at least a house phone. You need a car or some means to pay for transit. You need a place to sleep. You need to eat. And you need to provide yourself at least a minimum of comfort.ALL of these messages are repeated to you daily. When you live this way from your earliest memories, and no one teaches restraint, responsibility, and accountability, what can one expect?The poor in this country are poor because they are taught to be poor. They are taught to spend (consumerism). They are taught to care only for themselves. They are taught that there is no such thing as enough. They are taught that they are not worthy of respect if they don’t have material possession.You were rich when you got here. You had a spirit. You believed in yourself. And you were taught that common sense is valuable. Poverty begins in the heart.

Posted by Benny Acosta | Report as abusive

RESENTFULOFLIES writes: “…the rest are our liability, and should be shamed and not appeased.”And the bankers and financial “wizards” who, due to their unbridled greed and barefaced selfishness, crashed the economy deserve what? According to you, they deserve the public to hand them $12 trillion in cash and loan guarantees. They deserve looking after, nurturing, and, when they scream and cry, having dropped their rattle, for us to dig deep into our pockets and hand them unimaginable sums that no one – not even the poor! – receive.They also have a right to buy politicians and make the system work for them, rather than for us – right?The fact is the United States has to pillage from poor nations to feed its economic growth. No nation has infinite natural resources – growth is finite! The reality is the super rich and people like you, “resentfuloflies”, are impoverishing others in order to enrich yourself. Hypocrite is a word that comes to mind.

Posted by Richard | Report as abusive

I am an independent self supporting college student. I work 36 hours a week and go to school full time. I my job as a security guard (which I work at during the night as I have classes in the day) pays me $7.50 an hour. My monthly salary usually about $700.After paying rent on my tiny cupboard of a studio apartment, in downtown LA, (which I live in for its relative affordability to most of LA’s terrible rent and its close proximity to the subway that I use to get to school and work) I have about enough money left for little more than cheap bread, rice and water.I cannot afford to eat vegetables very often. Fruit is a luxury. I only eat meat when someone gives me some.I work hard. I am not a drunk or a drug addict. I am not lazy. I am a college student and dont have time, credentials or experience enough to get a better job. No one gives me money. Im not living off mommy and daddy like so many college students in this country can afford to do.I dont have the money to eat as well as I should be able to. Its just that simple people. Some Americans are working hard and struggling. Some of us cant seem to get a break in this lousy economy no matter what we do.I used to go down to the mission and eat free breakfast with the homeless. I was embarrassed and ashamed. I had no other option. It was either eat with the homeless or dont eat at all.

Posted by Starving Student | Report as abusive

I really can not understand how much some people are into that issue when recommending things like:>>Sell your computer and stop paying for the internet.<<In my ears it sounds like “shut up!” and a big ignorance to this people, like some readers here would be just happy if these people left without any voice or opportunity.Selling the used computer will bring how much? 100-200$ ? And canceling internet won’t save much as well.It is not like canceling the WSJ subscription you haven’t read for several month, or the country-club, yacht-club memberships which are luxury.I guess America is not so different to the places i have been so far. And quite everywhere having access to cheap information via internet, be able to search for jobs there, read news is valuable really much if a person wanna stay part of the society. The ability to communicate, and get to the job every morning are vital for keeping some social standard and job. Or could anyone imagine getting a reasonable job without having an address, and number where to be contacted?Sure, there are things like (cable) TV, cigarettes, alcohol which are really not good.But usually drug abuse is just the result of many circumstances. People without hope, or opportunities trying to get calm over and over again by these stuff, or to blur out their own miserable reality by consumption. …

Posted by Clemens | Report as abusive

” In the world’s wealthiest country”-so sorryMr Debusmann, the USA has long ceased to be that and manyEuropean countries are much wealthier than the USA…In reality the USA has gone bankrupt years ago and it is kept alive by the ruthless government clique of Chinese communists…The average american citizen eats a bad quality food,receives very low education and health services, his private life is under constant scrutiny of multiple security agencies and must keep working at a very late age…That is also the reason that the USA attracts fresh immigrants only from Third World countries…

Posted by B. Baklis | Report as abusive

The real problem lies at the feet of societies institutions. What we value as a people is reflected in society through private and government programs. The institution of public education is a big influence in this country on our youth. And yet we can’t capture and hold the interest of the student.We can feed all the hungry people we want and watch them multiply to create larger populations that will not be able to fend for themselves. Just look at the US population. There are more opportunities for traditional education here than anywhere. And yet we are getting worse over time. The only real answer is to give serious thought to tweaking our public institutions. Right now we ask students to sit down, shut up and listen in class. You have nothing to contribute for the most part. How do you engage a child in an unnatural state.We value empathy in our families and yet we don’t ask our institutions to reflect that value. How do you teach a kid to love his fellow student from a book? I think our real failure is to make empathy the highest priority in our public schools. Instead we require reading, writing, and arithmetic. We don’t give our kids the opportunity to interact with peers in school. Interaction that will give them the experience of helping others and finding value in themselves. A truly empathetic student always performs better than a thug. There has been much research on cross age peer teaching within our schools. Research done by huge think tanks paid for by the Dept. of Education. This approach taps in to the core motivation of the student, peer pressure. Make the students teach each other and let the teachers become the facilitators. This changes the priority from a dead focus on facts in books to a living focus on students and facts. It will create a highly collaborative society. This is only one small idea in a sea of opportunity. We need to radically change our institutions if we are to continue to grow our populations of the world in harmony. Feeding the hungry is only a band aid. Teaching the teachable has lasting impact. And reevaluating what is taught and how it is taught is the core issue in my humble opinion.

Posted by Brian LeBlanc | Report as abusive

People will always find some excuse not to share what they have with someone who has less. Jesus said to the rich young man, “Give what you have to the poor and come follow me,” and that man went sadly away. If you won’t surrender wealth in exchange for God Himself, the prayer cry “God Bless America” from you who are blessed is a spit in the face to the Great I AM, the One True God, the giver of all things.

Posted by Darrell | Report as abusive

I am living the American dream, I am the child of immgirants (non minority) and have lived around 200% of thew poverty level most of my life. Due to government aid in the form of loans i have been able to secure myself a future through education, and I am currently in medical school. I have never had food stamps. both my parents worked to enable us to eat. While being poor enough to get financial aid for school and have occasionally had to cut costs in my life to eat, I can honestly say that I have never been not able to afford food, unless it was because I was paying for stuff I didn’t need. I have found the answer to my hunger was to just work more hours. Now that I see an end in sight to my working 75 hours a week for peanuts I resent the idea of the government providing handouts to people who wont work to eat, life sometimes isn’t fair but no one who is willing to work at minimum wage even will go hungry, the will just have to work harder.

Posted by living the american dream | Report as abusive

There are those who work hard and don’t get ahead. And there are those who for what ever reason just can’t seem to get a foothold to step up in life.One of the main problems is that the wealthiest and most well established families in our country have worked their way into government. Since there are no term limits on legislators, they can become career politicians. They garner influence and power by making deals with other career politicians and those wealthy few that curry their favor, in exchange for more influence and power.Check the records of most of our legislators and you will find many of them with rap sheets longer than many street criminals. Bush was a cocaine addict and a drunk. Had he been poor, he would have ended up in prison. But the wealth of his family afforded him the opportunity to destroy the American economy and entangle us in unnecessary war.Career politicians need to be removed. And term limits need to be forced on them by will of the people. But as long as the old establishment remains unchecked, there will continue to be an increase in poverty. And the suffering will grow.These posts are clear. Some people make it. Most people don’t. And most poor people are simply hard working folks trying to make ends meet. They are people like our STARVING STUDENT.Poverty and hunger are the result of the way our “system” works.And this is why our system needs to be purged of the cancer that lies within it. I’m not just talking about the career politicians. I’m talking about all of us. It is individual people helping each other in times of need that will keep poverty and hunger away. As long as we care nothing for others, their suffering and death will mean nothing to us. And when we fall into the pit of poverty, no one will care for us either.

Posted by Benny Acosta | Report as abusive

The obesity problem is one that is directly related to quality education and economic class. If the obesity problem was simply related to people sitting around and eating all day, the statistics would be way different than they. We need to look at the problem without clouding the issue with what we assume to be true. And we need to stop blaming the victims. Sure, there are “fat cats” around, but unlike obese people of past generations, the obese American is more likely to be of lower income and lesser education. Their diets tend to contain far fewer fresh vegetables(way more expensive, pound for pound)and far greater processed and fast foods than their bodies need. You’ll also find that the great majority of obese families ARE employed and in many cases work far more than 40 hours a week. Because of this, they don’t have the time to prepare properly cooked meals and instead rely on a diet of “value meals” and other nutritionally lacking foods. Even their cooked meals are heavy on corn-based processed items and light on fiber containing fresh fruits and vegetables and other unadulterated items.The high income population can afford fresh veggies and foods that have not been processed or adulterated.The problem is deeper and far different than a population of people paid more than the typical person of other countries who sits on their couch all evening watching TV, drinking beer and chain-noshing Doritos. The problem is with properly educating our people(and yes, our immigrants)and with limiting the corporate farms’ monopolies on our food sources and the carte blanche we give them to do whatever they want to our food(without labeling our food as having been processed in many particular ways) before we even get our hands on it.This brings me to a subject that several people responding to this editorial have addressed. These people have fallen for the myth that corporate food producers want you to believe-that myth being that “food is grown on farms by farmers”. Very little of our food is being grown by George and Martha Farmer on their family farm in Iowa. If George and Martha still own their land, chances are they’ve been contracted to grow a crop for one of a handful of corporate food producers. Chickens no longer cluck and strut around their farm, and cows no longer graze in their pastures. The majority of animals raised for consumption in this country never see light of day, or even eat a diet that they’ve evolved for millennia to eat (or if you prefer, that God intended them to eat). Yes, a small percentage of food is still being grown the traditional way and happily, there seems to be renewed support for these dedicated farmers. Unfortunately, most of us can’t bear to pay tripple the price of “regular” food.***This subject is well covered in a documentary film (available on DVD) called “Food, Inc.” I HIGHLY recommend watching it.***

Posted by Dorothy and Toto | Report as abusive

I lost my job because it is cheaper for my ex employer to produce their product in a different country.However they never take into the concept that the people cannot afford the product they produce. they also don’t take in the fact that when they make us unemployed we cannot afford their product.They only gain a quick profit,but they did not seek a sustainable one.The short sightedness of these corporations and the greed mongers of wall street has to end.sustainable profits are always smaller. However these small gains are reliable assets that corporations should base LONG TERM INVESTMENTS on!

Posted by tp Giblin | Report as abusive

This article is a load of bull. Sure, the US has its share of worthless bums, but so does every other nation, and no one is walking around here with distended bellies from starvation. There are plenty of food banks and welfare – no one goes hungry here other than by personal choice.There isn’t even any real poverty here. The average “poor family” in the US owns their own home, has two cars, two televisions, etc. What we do have are too many professional whiners like Bernd Debusmann who make up crap so they can get attention and funding.

Posted by woodNfish | Report as abusive

eat eat eat, that’s the problem, we evolved as hairless running machines, being relatively weak in natural defenses and no natural claws or sharp teeth etc., our ancestors who could run farther and longer survived. ever seen a hundred year old obese person, we all have to take responsibility for ourselves own fate. our bodies are designed to store fat when we can get it cause the next meal might be long off and require effort. stop expecting the easy way out. its time to bring down the McEaters to earth make tie their own shoes get off their collective huge behinds. stop blaming others, be it restaurants or other food suppliers. is it any wonder so-called third world religions hate us, we consume too much and let our daughters dress like whores, tell me why would a toddler would need a bikini or a halter top. come on people put away the dirty sweats and clothes that don’t fit , dress and act your age, treat the earth as a God, and please ban tights sizes bigger than medium. unless of course one has a physical affliction keeping them from partaking, exercise and a lot of tree planting is the only cure for North America. skinny4life

Posted by poppatune | Report as abusive

Obese people should be forced to pay higher taxes based on their Body Mass Index. The higher your BMI, the higher your taxes. Why? Because fat people cost tons of money in social services and health costs. Studies show that the fatter you are, the sicker you’ll be. The good thing is: fat people die young.

Posted by julio Moreno | Report as abusive

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) hates to use words like “hunger” and “malnutrition” in the same sentence as the “United States.” Out of sight, out of mind. That said, there is a body of skills and knowledge which are rarely possessed by the newly indigent. A middle-class family living close to the edge that suddenly loses its income does not have the background of street-smarts, knowledge or skills possessed by the long-term homeless or welfare family. The public library doesn’t stock many books that address “what to do and where to go when the cupboard is bare and the rent is due.” Maybe it’s time that a few were written. And yes, it’s hard for a newbie to apply for welfare or visit a church’s food pantry for help but that’s why they’re there.Some churches or libraries have programs that address “between-jobs-survival.” If not, talk to them about sponsoring such a program. The best time to attend is …. before you need to.

Posted by Bob Walton | Report as abusive

““disrupted eating patterns and reduced food intake.” That applied to around 17 million people”There is a diabolically simple plan at work here. Allow immigrants to flood over the borders, then add them to the list of people who the government must help.This then, becomes a tangible that liberals can point to while screaming “We need socialism! Only more government can help!”Most people want to help others, and most Americans do, but empowering governments to help also empowers them to harm.Studies like this, then, are just one more reason that liberals always oppose enforcement of immigration laws.

Posted by Nelno | Report as abusive

This is the result of corporate citizenship. Corporations are citizens under our law. They use their well payed lobbyists to champion their interests. While the interests of true citizens are sold away.

The price, a career in politics that is profitable and long.
Term limits need to be instituted in the legislature. The courts must strike down corporate citizenship. Only when the legislature is composed of people who truly wish to serve the interests of the citizen, will meaningful change begin.

Corporate interests give lip service to “values” and living a in a morally upright society where everyone is respected. But at the same time they destroy society by stealing money intended for the honoring of contracts and call it “profit”, and by their blatant disregard for those who’s lives have been decimated by their corruption and greed.

Meanwhile our politicians feed this diseased economy for their own profit. They prove their disgust for the citizenry by not even having the honor to limit their terms for the good of the nation they claim to love so much.

The result is that companies can get away with degrading our food supply. They get away with throwing thousands if not millions, of families into destitution. And they are free to profit from the suffering they cause and are encouraged to do so. This they call economic growth. And we are supposed to believe that this is good for us.

Where are the people of reason who see this? They should be speaking more. They should be making their voices heard and their presence known.

One or two voices pointing out the obvious won’t do it alone. The rest need to speak up as well.

Posted by Benny_Acosta | Report as abusive

[…] In this era of bank bailouts and astronomical Wall St. bonuses, almost 50 million in America are chronically lacking adequate food, according to the government. And it’s getting worse. – NY Times here. Reuters here. […]

Posted by Left Blog | Report as abusive

[…] It’s bonus season again and some bankers are going to get gifts in the 7 … or 8 … figures, according to NYT, here.  Banks brace for public fury, says WSJ, here. At the other end of the scale, 1 in 8 Americans is now on food stamps, here.  1 in 6 Americans sometimes goes hungry for lack of money, here. […]

Posted by Left Blog | Report as abusive