A false alarm over hunger in America
Anyone surveyed who said they had ever “worried” about running out of food was counted in the total, whether or not they actually had run out, said Charles Lane on <em>Washingtonpost.com.</em>
Is famine stalking our nation? asked Charles Lane. It would seem so, based on the breathless reaction to an Agriculture Department report last week that found that 16.4 million U.S. households experienced “food insecurity” last year, up from 12.2 million households in 2007. News articles and pundits used terms like “alarming” and “dramatic” to describe the results, implying that millions of Americans “lack food.”
But look closer. Anyone surveyed who said they had ever “worried” about running out of food was counted in the total, whether or not they actually had run out. In fact, only about a third of the 16.4 million “food insecure” households reported that any member experienced “even a brief reduction in actual food consumption.” Only 0.1 percent of children went without food for an entire day, down from 0.2 percent in 2007.
Of course, no amount of hunger should be tolerated in America. “But is it ‘alarming’ that 99.9 percent of American children ate at least something every day despite the worst economic downturn since the Depression? Or is it a tribute to American abundance, and to the safety net, public and private?”