Urging our nation's leaders to end hunger
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Causes of Hunger in the U.S.

In the United States, hunger is not caused by a scarcity of food. There is more than enough food to feed everyone. We have the infrastructure to deliver it. There is a network of interstate highways and a trucking industry ready to move mountains of food daily wherever it needs to go. The supermarket store shelves are stocked to the ceiling. But none of this matters if customers have no money in their pockets. Poverty spoils every meal.

Around the world, wherever poverty exists hunger is sure to exist as well. This is not surprising, and for some time, governments around the world have recognized the two as inseparable. The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), a set of human development targets, put reducing hunger and poverty together at the top of the list. All the other goals follow from these.

The MDGs, introduced at the United Nations (U.N) in 2000, have been accepted by all U.N. member countries, including the United States. The deadline for meeting them is 2015. Besides reducing global hunger and extreme poverty by half, the MDGs include improving maternal and child health, slowing the spread of infectious disease, achieving universal primary education, and providing wider access to basic services such as potable water and sewage treatment. The MDGs apply to all countries, not just the least developed. As a country which has accepted the MDGs, the United States must be committed to achieving them at home.

Poverty in the United States has been measured for decades; measuring hunger, or what the U.S. government is more comfortable calling food insecurity, is a more recent phenomenon. Once annual food insecurity data was collected, beginning in 1995, it became clear that the ups and downs in food insecurity line up closely with the changes in poverty. The United States has done a much better job fighting hunger than it has poverty. Hunger is a simpler issue in some ways. The Food Stamp Program, the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC), the National School Lunch Program, and 12 other nutrition programs run by the U.S.

Department of Agriculture (USDA) serve millions of U.S. residents every day. All of these resources are needed, and when government programs are not enough, there is also a robust network of emergency food providers to fill the gaps.

The ancient Chinese maxim still rings true: Feed a man a fish and he eats for a day—teach him to fish and he eats for a lifetime.

Families become hunger-free when they can provide for themselves. The solution is simple: jobs that pay enough for a family to live on.

Chart: How has the unemployment rate changed in the past twenty years?


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