Hunger in America: A Bigger Problem Than You Might Think

How many go hungry in U.S.

Hungry families need help all year, but Thanksgiving is a great time to start donating to fight hunger in the U.S.

Hungry families need help all year, but Thanksgiving is a great time to start donating to fight hunger in the U.S.

I was absolutely shocked to read at Reuters Web site that “More than 49 million Americans — one in seven — struggled to get enough to eat in 2008.” That’s 14.6 percent of the households. It is endlessly astounding to me that one of the richest countries in the world has 49 million hungry residents and still doesn’t provide health care for its citizens.

The list of huge problems that needs White House attention is getting bigger. The USDA survey on “food insecurity,” which is where the one in seven statistic came from, shows that the most important fights we should be conducting don’t require bombs and should occur in our own neighborhoods.

Where help is needed most

Paycheck loans can help families who don’t have enough money to buy food, but they are only temporary solutions. The federal survey says that 5.7 percent of households in the U.S. ran short of food for seven to eight months of the year. The USDA has conducted this survey for 14 years, and the number of people in 2008 who had trouble obtaining enough food is the highest yet.

“The number of Americans receiving food stamp assistance soared above 36 million for the first time in August, the eighth month in a row that enrollment set a record,” Reuters reports. President Obama wrote a statement saying he vows to reverse the trend. Food stamp benefits already were raised through the stimulus package.

Help if you can

There are a lot of worldwide and nationwide organizations that help provide people with food, but the best place to start is in your own community. We all know how long it takes for government programs and efforts to be effective, so the best thing you can do to help with this national problem is to find a local organization.

If you’re lucky enough to always have food, share! Especially around Thanksgiving, it is easy to find private organizations or churches that gather and distribute food donations. It’s easy to forget that hunger is a year-round problem, not just an issue around the holidays. Encourage your friends to help if they can.