moveforhunger.org. Written by Jennifer Nelson, M.S., R.D. and Katherine Zeratsky, R.D., the paper sheds some enlightening data on families coping with ” food insecurity ” in America. America is considered the “breadbasket” of the world, and yet with all our wealth, one in six Americans are considered to be coping with “food insecurity,” unable to partake of the loaves in that breadbasket. What does “food insecurity” mean? It is now the politically correct phrase used to identify those people unable to get food or are uncertain of having enough food to meet their needs because of insufficient money or other resources. In other words, they are describing those of us living in poverty who don’t have the money or other resources to get food to eat, and as a result, often going hungry. The bare facts on hunger in America Department of Agriculture figures show that 33.1 million adults and 15.9 million children lived with food insecurity in 2012. That’s 49 million people. Older Americans, ages 60 and over accounted for a whooping 8.4 percent, or almost 5 million of those coping with going to bed hungry. Surprisingly, only about 60 percent of food insecure households in 2012 participated in the three federal food assistance programs. As most of us can guess, poverty can be directly tied into food insecurity. And the figures on the poverty level in this country are appalling. In 2012, 46.5 million people, that’s 15 percent of the population, lived in poverty. It is unconscionable that in the U.S., anyone should go without a meal, at any time.
The trust says many people this winter will choose between “eating and heating.” “People at food banks have started giving back food items that need cooking because they can’t afford to turn on the electricity,” the trust said in a statement. The British Red Cross announced last week it would have 30,000 volunteers help in a massive food drive at the end of November. The Red Cross hasn’t been involved in food distribution on a wide scale in Britain since World War II. IMPACT OF AUSTERITY The stress on the poor has increased since Britain’s coalition government, elected in 2010, imposed tough spending cuts and tax increases to reduce the debt. The government has cut welfare payments, forced many low-income residents to pay local government tax for the first time, and imposed a new fee for public housing tenants with spare bedrooms. Treasury chief George Osborne has acknowledged that the austerity has proven to be hard and that recovery is taking “longer than anyone hoped.” But the government insists the policies are a short-term necessity and that there is no evidence welfare reforms are causing people to go hungry. Among those struggling is Tim Day, 30, a graphic designer who is between jobs and visited one of the trust’s distribution centers at the United Reformed Church in Bromley on Tuesday. Between temporary work contracts, Day was grateful for a food supply that included orange juice, vegetables, and porridge. But he’s always worried about making ends meet. “It’s stressful,” he said, describing the constant ups and downs that come without the certainty of a full-time job. UPWARD TREND The numbers show a steady increase in the numbers of people needing help to eat. When the trust’s network started in 2000, it served 600 people at one site. By 2008, that number had climbed to nearly 26,000 at 60 sites. The trust now has about 400 that operate in conjunction with churches and charitable institutions.
Ertharin Cousin warned aid funds were running out for forgotten but ongoing humanitarian crises like North Korea or Yemen, as money shifts to conflicts such as Syria, where the media attention is stronger. “There is no room for donor fatigue,” Cousin said at the UN food aid agency’s headquarters in Rome. “The biggest challenge is ensuring we don’t forget conflicts that are beyond the attention of the media,” said the Chicago native and ex-official in US president Bill Clinton’s administration. “Food crises don’t just affect the countries where people go hungry. It’s a global challenge.” WFP supplies aid to about 97 million people in 80 countries, including 20 states that are mired in constant crises like Afghanistan, Haiti or Sudan. Recent data shows the number of hungry in the world has fallen but still stands at 842 million people. With an annual budget of around $5.0 billion (3.7 billion euros), the organisation last year spent $1.2 billion buying emergency food supplies. “Our needs always exceed the funding that we receive. Signficantly,” she said, adding: “We have almost a billion dollars shortage between what we have and what we believe is needed. “We anticipate that this shortage will be even greater next year,” said Cousin, who was appointed last year and was previously the United States ambassador to the UN agencies in Rome. In the time she has been in office, Cousin said that aid to Syria had been scaled up from supplying 150,000 people to more than six million internally displaced people and refugees now. WFP operations in and around Syria are costing around $31 million a week, but Cousin said this could not come at the expense of other crises. “We are very concerned about places like Central African Republic and Democratic Republic of Congo where we continue to act,” Cousin said. In North Korea, “without significant contribution in the next months we will be forced to suspend our operation at the end of January”, she added. The WFP has asked donors for $47 million to continue supplying aid to North Korea but has only received pledges amounting to 43 percent.