An article released by the AP was published in The Oklahoman today under the title, “Hunger rising among children.” Had it not been in the “Nation” section I would have immediately thought of the vast hunger problem in developing nations. But, this piece points up the growing number of children going hungry “sometime in 2007.” The number? 691,000! The piece goes on to point out we suffer better than a ten percent rate of hunger to population – 36.2 million in 2007 out of an estimated 301 million.
In the land of plenty, home of the free and brave, we have yet to find a way to vanquish hunger. Somewhere I recently read we throw away about 14% of our food. You do the math. If we could figure out how to “waste not, want not.” We could feed our entire population.
4 comments on “Hungry in America – Perish the Thought!”
Is that not equivalent to telling me to “finish my plate, there are people starving in China?” Our waste and excess is horrendous of which I am no advocate, but the two problems seem independent.
My naive guess is that access is much more the problem than supply. Those who are unable to nourish themselves should make up the majority of the number who experience hunger (although I don’t really know). It is through community that those who go hungry can be identified and fed.
It requires something we lose a bit of daily, contact with the corporate community. It requires much more than wasting less, it requires an expense of time and energy to engage the community as a whole, so that the 14% we save is transferred to the 10% who go hungry.
The solution to the issue may well be multi-faceted. I agree the community should bare responsibility. On a national scale we cannot suggest that were we to care for all the hungry in Tuttle, for example, the concern for those who, say, live in Shawnee are for those living there. To venture down that road – which does not seem to be the road you are traveling by the way but seems at least tangentially related – is to ask Jesus, “Who is my neighbor?” When the disciples reported hungry people, Jesus’ first move was to tell them to do something about it. A move that preceded his taking the little they discovered and satisfying everyone in sight.
Access a problem in the United States? In the villages outside the major cities of Myanmar (Burma) maybe access is the issue. In the United States? And, if access is an issue for some, it is not for all. We just lack the fortitude to tackle the issue. After all, I have what I need and will, maybe, do something about those who don’t – when I care to. Those who have the means to pave the way spend way too much time ensuring their garbage disposals function and the spoiling food sits in receptacle outside the house. If as you note the same energy given to engage the community, access would never be denied.
As for wasting. I would never tell anyone to finish what is on their plate because people are starving. We have too many guilty obese around us who suffered such manipulative tripe. No, we should prepare less. If we have more than we need, then in our communities we should share making access a moot point. Corners of fields were left for those who did not have plenty. Vines were not harvested twice for those who did not have plenty. The matter may be one of those “chicken and egg” issues but I am not sure they can really be viewed independently. If we could not waste that would be one thing. But, we can and do. I do. So we have the supply, as you note, and we also hold the keys to access.
So reading through again and again, I think we have said much the same thing. You may have been more succinct than me but surely between us we will have given more for folks to read and consider.
Glad you stopped by.
I have lurked for years…this just really caught my eye. Rereading the start of my post, I may have been too pointed. I meant to use the old “finish your plate line” as an example of two independent problems that are often related as connected. I agree completely with your statement on old line itself. I guess my thought was that just wasting less food, is a good thing, but should not be used to dodge the problem of hunger in my community, which I am not implying that you meant at all.
In Jeffery Sachs “The End of Poverty”, he suggests three different distinctions to poverty. Extreme, Moderate and Relational. He suggests that the United States deals almost entirely with Relational poverty, which is determined by relation to an arbitrary standard, be it cultural or economic. Death is not in the equation. The focus of his book is solving the other two versions of poverty, extreme and moderate.
So, what we are left with are “people who should know better”. Why don’t they pull themselves up by their bootstraps? This line of thinking only serves to protect us from engagement and to alleviate our feelings of guilt. Our own judgment stands in the way of providing relief to a hurting fellow man (or woman).
So how do we override the worldview that “I worked hard for what I have and it is mine. Why don’t you work hard like me?” but instead “not let the left hand know what the right is doing”. I don’t know. I struggle with it myself. Thanks for a great post.
I could not agree with you more. I have not finished Sachs. But, I do agree we always find ways to resist our responsibility. Your last paragraph is a great way to stage the issue.
Thanks for your interaction.