Monday, July 10, 2006

Hunger in America

One of the benefits to sitting with my leg propped up is that I have time to get caught up on some reading. One of the drawbacks to getting caught up on some reading is that the content can be troublesome. One of my catch-up books is Loretta Schwartz-Nobel's Growing Up Empty - this month's selection for the Urban Engagement Book Club.

Growing Up Empty is a series of stories of people in America who face hunger on a daily basis. The auther tells their stories in their own words - from the wife of the doctor who left her and 3 children for another woman to the soldier's family living in military housing to the janitor working for minimum wage - These are the stories of people who cannot afford to feed themselves and their dependents.

Some fast facts about hunger (from the Center on Poverty and Hunger - Brandeis University)
  • Nearly one in eight US households do not have access to enough food to meet their basic needs. Over 38 million people live in these food-insecure households, including 13.9 million children.
  • More than ten million people live in households that go hungry; close to one-third of these are children.
  • Over 40% of low-income children live in households that are hungry or at risk of hunger.
  • One-third of female-headed households and more than 20% of Black and Hispanic households are uncertain of having, or unable to acquire, enough food to meet the basic needs of their members because of insufficient money to buy food.
  • More Texans are at risk of going hungry than anywhere else in the country. Every day, one in six Texans is food insecure, meaning they aren’t sure where they’ll get their next meal.

Food security refers to assured access to enough food at all times for an active and healthy life. At a minimum, food security includes: the availability of nutritionally adequate and safe foods, and a guaranteed ability to acquire acceptable foods in socially acceptable ways (without resorting to emergency food supplies, scavenging or stealing, for example).
Food insecurity occurs whenever the availability of nutritionally adequate and safe food, or the ability to acquire acceptable foods in socially acceptable ways, is limited or uncertain.

As we talk about politics and religion or becoming missional, somehow feeding the hungry must be a part of that conversation. "For as you have done to the least of these, so have you done to me also."

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