Epidemic Of Hunger: New Report Says 49 Million Americans Are Dealing With Food Insecurity

By Michael Snyder.

Crying Girl - Photo by D Sharon Pruitt

If the economy really is “getting better”, then why are nearly 50 million Americans dealing with food insecurity?  In 1854, Henry David Thoreau observed that “the mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation”.  The same could be said of our time.  In America today, most people are quietly scratching and clawing their way from month to month.  Nine of the top ten occupations in the U.S. pay an average wage of less than $35,000 a year, but those that actually are working are better off than the millions upon millions of Americans that can’t find jobs.  The level of employment in this nation has remained fairly level since the end of the last recession, and median household income has gone down for five years in a row.  Meanwhile, our bills just keep going up and the cost of food is starting to rise at a very frightening pace.  Family budgets are being squeezed tighter and tighter, and more families are falling out of the middle class every single day.  In fact, a new report by Feeding America (which operates the largest network of food banks in the country) says that 49 million Americans are “food insecure” at this point.  Approximately 16 million of them are children.  It is a silent epidemic of hunger that those living in the wealthy areas of the country don’t hear much about.  But it is very real.

The mainstream media and our politicians continue to insist that “things are getting better”, and that may be true for Wall Street, but the man who was in charge of the new Feeding America report says that the level of suffering for the tens of millions of Americans that are food insecure has not changed

Nothing is getting better,” said Craig Gundersen, lead researcher of the report, “Map the Meal Gap 2014,” and an expert in food insecurity and food aid programs.

Let’s stop talking about the end of the Great Recession until we can make sure that we get food insecurity rates down to a more reasonable level,” he added. “We’re still in the throes of the Great Recession, from my perspective.”

In fact, a different report seems to indicate that hunger in America is actually getting worse

Children’s HealthWatch, a network of doctors and public health researchers who collect data on children up to 4 years old, says 29% of the households they track were at risk of hunger last year, compared with 25% the year before.

If someone tries to tell you that “the economy is getting better”, that person is probably living in a wealthy neighborhood.  Because those that live in poor neighborhoods would not describe what is going around them as an “improvement”.

In particular, many minority neighborhoods are really dealing with extremely high levels of food insecurity right now.  The following comes from a recent NBC News article

“Minorities are facing serious hunger issues. Ninety-three percent of counties with a majority African-American population fall within the top 10 percent of food-insecure counties, while 60 percent of majority American Indian counties fall in that category”

But if you don’t live in one of those areas and you don’t know anyone that is facing food insecurity, it can be difficult to grasp just how much people are actually suffering out there right now.

For example, consider the story of a young mother named Tianna Gaines Turner

Tianna Gaines Turner can’t remember the last time she went to bed without worrying about how she was going to feed her three children.

She can’t remember the last time she woke up and wasn’t worried about how she and her husband would make enough in their part-time jobs to buy groceries and pay utilities on their apartment in a working-class section of Philadelphia.

And she can’t remember the last time she felt confident she and her husband wouldn’t have to skip meals so their children could eat.

Have you ever been in a position where you had to skip meals just so that other family members could have something to eat?

I haven’t, so it is hard for me to imagine having to do such a thing.  But there are millions of parents that are faced with these kinds of hard choices every day.

Things can be particularly hard if you are a single parent.  Just consider the story of Jamie Grimes

After Jaime Grimes found out in January that her monthly food stamps would be cut again, this time by $40, the single mother of four broke down into sobs — then she took action.

The former high school teacher made a plan to stretch her family’s meager food stores even further. She used oatmeal and ground beans as filler in meatloaf and tacos. She watered down juice and low-fat milk to make it last longer. And she limited herself to one meal a day so her kids — ages 3, 4, 13, and 16 — would have enough to eat.

I have such admiration for working single mothers.  Many of them work more than one job just so that they can provide for their children.  It can be absolutely frustrating to work as hard as you possibly can and still not have enough money to pay the bills at the end of the month.

Those that believe that the economy has gotten “back to normal” just need to look at the number of women that have been forced to turn to government assistance.  As I mentioned the other day, a decade ago the number of American women that had jobs outnumbered the number of American women on food stamps by more than a 2 to 1 margin. But now the number of American women on food stamps actually exceeds the number of American women that have jobs.

The truth is that we are nowhere close to where we used to be.  The last major economic downturn permanently damaged the middle class, and now the next major economic downturn is rapidly approaching.

Right now, there are nearly 50 million Americans that are facing food insecurity.  When the next economic crisis strikes, that number is going to go much higher.

There is going to be a great need for love and compassion in this country during the hard times that are coming.  Instead of just cursing the darkness, I hope that you will choose to be a light to those that desperately need it.


A former Washington, D.C., attorney, Michael Snyder runs a number of websites, including:

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  • Dee

    Seriously , and this is no joke, I wish I could help, I used to work with the homeless, and volunteer at a Battered Woman’s Shelter ( I have a 1000 hour Plaque ) .. but right now the Right wants to take away my Right to control my body, and the Left wants my Guns.. and all my spare money and time go to fighting for myself and my children’s Rights. Pretty much how most of friends see the situation as well .. everybody feels something precious to them is under attack.
    Honestly .. I really used to say that the job wasn’t done until all the kids were fed and safely put to bed, and I didn’t just mean mine.
    I wish everybody luck.
    If this nation ever gets back to caring about people more than it does about controlling how people live.. or even just willing to leave folks alone and not use every freaking thing they can think of to spy on us , regulate us , use wedge issues to divide us, if there was even one News outlet that reported the news and told the truth, I don’t even care which side backs off and decides to leave us the hell alone for just a little bit, I’ll be right back willing to help. Until then my plate is full.

  • mirageseekr

    Let’s start with taking away the political correct term of “food insecure” and call it what it is, Hunger. It probably makes the elite more comfortable to pretty up the word but going hungry is not pretty. I hate to say it but the reality is the people at the top have manipulated the system to get us here and it is exactly where they want us. The Supreme Court and Congress have sold us out to the corporations. We are living in a fascist state soon to be a police fascist state. Does anyone think it will get better once those autonomous drones are flying over head? It is time to put aside the wedge issues that they have used to keep us infighting for years and work together to take our country back. We must make harsh punishments for those that have twisted our laws and violated our rights to discourage any others from attempting this again. We must go through the laws that have only benefited the oligarchs one by one and decide by a majority how we would like to live. What is happening is no accident, the bankers and fed have been working on it for a long time. Those not familiar with Agenda 21 and the executive orders Obama and Bush have passed need to get caught up. What would happen if the 50 million hungry people showed up in Washington? We do not have much longer for a peaceful resolution folks.


      I agree that this whole thing has been preplanned and orchestrated by some pretty wicked minded persons or groups. To them, they probably think this type of thing is funny. Well the hungry aren’t laughing. In seeking help how does our own government respond? They threaten us with allowing 10 – 40or more illegal aliens to stay in our country, bring in their families from other countries and blow the border gates wide open! All this when having an oversupply of lsbor from illegal aliens is highly contributory to why these same fsmilies are hungry (I’m sorry I mean “experiencing” food insecurity in the first place with the suppression of wages and filling jobs that we Americans need!!!

      • mirageseekr

        I stay involved in other areas, I hadn’t heard of a protest until you mention it and I scarce have the resources to go to Washington right now. I also am beginning to think that the peaceful protest are having little effect on the powers that be as they do not give a shit about us and just become more secretive when called out. The U.S. is a tinderbox just waiting for a match. Thought the Bundy ranch might have gone that way. Whatever starts it, it is coming and soon so best prepare and try to educate people around you.