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Why is there Food Starvation in America?

Updated on March 4, 2016

Going to bed hungry...

Last night I heard an alarming statistic on the televised nightly news. In Texas 22% of all children go to bed not knowing from where their next meal will come! Folks...this is cause for some serious concern. Starvation exists in America, the so called "Land of Plenty."

While the news media is packed with diet aide commercials and the latest weight loss trends for the many obese people living here, there are other people (including children!) who may be living next door or around the block who will never be concerned with having to shed excess pounds. Hunger and starvation is stamped upon their faces and resides deep within their belly's.

Much of the media focus is directed towards the starving people in Africa and other places around the world. Some reasons given are warfare which drives people from their homes or they risk genocide if they stay in place, droughts and other natural conditions. We are saddened by this plight of people in far away places as we munch on our pizzas delivered to our doors and sip on our sodas. Except for a few who are dedicated to world hunger relief, the rest of us are easily distracted and our thoughts are quickly diverted elsewhere.

Food in pantry


Food relief

Occasionally we are tempted to contribute to some charity offering food relief and this is commendable. Countless people of the world need our help! And those very people might be living around the corner from us or in that car we passed on the street.

There are red barrels begging to be filled in almost every grocery store in America. Some thoughtful souls contribute a can or two of food or some dried package mix that they throw into the barrel on their way out of the store. Many grocery stores have bags already made up and tagged with useful items of non-perishable food that can be added to our grocery bill and left in these barrels as a donation. Sadly, others use the barrels for trash. The volunteers who regularly pick up the contributions to take to food pantries have to sort through the barrels to separate the well intended and useful commodities from the refuse.

How and why could this be happening right here in America?

How could this most basic of needs go unsatisfied in one of the wealthiest of countries?

Fighting Root Causes of Hunger and Food Insecurity

Contributing causes for Food Shortages

There are many causes of food shortages world wide. As human beings sharing the same planet we should all take part and do what we can to help the helpless. Sadly many of the people affected are our planet's children.

Ignorance plays a part in this. Clear cutting old growth forests (which we need for our life giving oxygen supply) to plant seeds for food does not ordinarily work beyond a crop or two. The ground that allowed the forests to thrive is for the most part not fertile enough to support food crops.

Dislocated people who are driven by warfare into camps where they can no longer secure their own food become dependent upon others to supply their daily needs. This places a burden on the normal supply and demand for foodstuffs.

Growing corn and other crops to be converted into bio-fuel is an inefficient way of producing more fuel, but it also takes away a certain percentage of food out of the available supply that could have been feeding hungry people.

Those of us who eat domestic cattle and other animals (and I am guilty) take food from other hungry mouths. Why? It takes more vegetative matter such as corn and grains to feed the animals than the proportion of meat that is derived when those animals are slaughtered. Just a cold hard fact. If we meat eaters of the world would simply cut back and eat a meatless meal a little more often, the food supply for the rest of the world would gradually be enlarged.

Greed also plays a role. Raising the prices of such a basic commodity as rice when it becomes too expensive for many people around the globe to purchase, causes needless hunger. Have our corporations become so heartless? I'm afraid that the answer in some cases is "yes." Would the shareholders of these companies who are receiving better profits be as happy with them if they knew that the end result was causing people to starve and die? I think least I hope so. This is happening right now! Prices of rice have risen substantially around the world.

These are just some of the reasons causing food shortages around the world. It is by no means an exhaustive list.

Who Feeds Our World?

World Hunger - UNICEF

What can we do?


Considering that a great number of the people in the world live on a dollar or two per day, if each of us would fore-go a little something on a daily or weekly basis and consider giving what we would have spent to a local food pantry or a national or international charity, the impact would be huge.

How about foregoing a movie or if you go to that movie, how about foregoing the normal food and drink you'd ordinarily purchase and put it in an envelope dedicated to feeding the hungry?

How about foregoing your daily cup of coffee at least once in a while and putting that un-spent money in that same envelope?

Next time you go grocery shopping, think of donating something to help feed the hungry. If you make it a habit and everyone started doing just a little, we could collectively help stamp out hunger. Relate grocery shopping to thinking of the hungry...not simply your own desire to stock your shelves and refrigerator with food.

***This memory still resonates with me...***

For almost 15 years I worked as a volunteer counselor at an assistance ministry. Some of what we were able to offer was to help with food assistance. When the ministry was still small, we counselors (after listening to and documenting the crisis) were able to fill a couple of grocery bags and help carry them to the people's cars if food was what they needed.

On this one particular day a box of cereal was showing at the top of the bag that I had just filled. A mother had her two small children with her and the eyes of the little boy had spotted the box of cereal. He looked up at his mother and said with eager excitement "Look Mommy! Cereal!"

I remember thinking to myself that this was obviously a rare treat.

Had Santa Claus just delivered a sack filled with toys, the excitement in this little child's face and voice would not have been any greater than what I had just experienced seeing and hearing first-hand.

Fortunately we were able to help the mother and her little brood that day with some food and possibly some other assistance. I no longer remember her plight.........just her son's happy response to seeing that box of cereal.

Won't you consider sharing a bit of food, money or your time to help stamp out hunger?

If every time we go grocery shopping we think about those that are hungry and we contribute just some loose change or toss in a can of corn or a bag of rice into those barrels, we will be helping people like that little boy who was so excited to see that box of cereal.

Will you help?

Will you do your small part to help eradicate hunger and starvation here in the land of plenty and beyond our seashores?

A terrific video putting this into perspective...

© 2009 Peggy Woods

Comments are welcomed.

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    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 21 months ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Au fait,

      If everyone was as passionate as you are, we would end hunger in America quickly! Homelessness and hunger often go hand in hand obviously but there are countless others who live in residences who are also hungry because of lack of money. They are just not as obvious. Individuals can help by donating food to the various agencies and even right in the grocery stores where they shop. Non-profit charities and churches can sponsor homeless families and governments can do much more to help. Thank heavens there are existing programs which at least help feed school children and even programs in some areas to assist children when they are not in school as well as adults. They are all worth supporting! Thanks for your comment.

    • Au fait profile image

      C E Clark 21 months ago from North Texas

      It does indeed bother me that anyone in this richest nation on earth is hungry and not getting proper nutrition. Especially when our paid government workers are wanting for very little. There are some poorly paid government workers, in the supporting vocations of our public schools and the like, and those wages need to be raised. Some transportation workers, for example, often get less than $10 an hour. Their hours are often too few and they are laid off for several months a year with no unemployment. This is not the case in every school district, but it is in the one where I live, and I doubt the one where I live is the only one that treats their workers less than well.

      No one should be without food or necessary medical care in this country. No one. True Christians should be embarrassed by the conditions in this country regarding the poor, and I believe true Christians ARE embarrassed by them. It is those few people who afix that label (Christian) to themselves in order to take advantage of it who bray (not a typo) to end public assistance for the poor. A label does not a Christian make.

      There are more than 3.5 homeless people in this country at any given time. I have already written about who those people are and fewer than 20% are people who cannot function in society because of drug, alcohol, or mental issues. Not that it's OK by any means to write someone off because they have a mental disorder or that they should be left to starve and wander aimlessly.

      In reality, addictions are mental disorders too. But for the grace of God, any one of us might suffer from an addiction or a mental disorder and they are the sort of thing that can develop in a person at any time in one's life. I studied this in psychology, my major, at the university.

      Most private charities do not have the resources to provide stable dependable help to all who need it and that is why our government needs to manage such a huge undertaking. Government can also be useful in preventing discrimination where helping the needy is concerned.

      Here where I live most food pantries only allow people to obtain food 2 or 3 times a year. A couple of bags filled to the brim with groceries won't get anyone through difficult times for long. By the same token, the soup kitchens I've visited do not provide much in the way of fruits and vegetables and often serve only one small so-called meal a day. To me, the omission of vegetables and fruits is not a complete meal.

      Communities need to pull together to address poverty and put an end to it. Not only in providing food and medical services and housing, but jobs. There is no reason businesses in a community could not set aside a few of their jobs, maybe only 1 job in the case of a very small business, to be filled by a homeless person. Some homeless people down on their luck have college educations. It's really a shame that their education isn't being utilized by their community.

      With a little effort from everyone -- especially people who like to call themselves Christians -- we could end homelessness. The first step in so doing is adjusting attitudes that homeless people are all junkies and alcoholics, crazies and lazies. That is just simply wrong.

      Yes, it bothers me that a country where it seems to me the most vocal complainers about public assistance programs also like to say our country is based on Christian principles. So absorb some of those principles and be the Christian that you say you are dear readers, and prove you really are saved. The Bible says you will know them (God's chosen and saved saints) by their deeds. One doesn't do good deeds to be saved, but rather because one IS saved. Doing those good deeds proves God is indeed working through a person to do good.

      The homeless communities everywhere are growing and more and more laws are being passed to make their lives even harder than they already are. Cities love to brag about bull dozing tent cities. Ya, that's so Christian I can hardly stand it.

      Destroying and stealing the few possessions these people in tent cities have managed to obtain. Shame on anyone who would do such a thing or take pleasure in hearing about it. Shame on anyone who doesn't at least speak up and say how wrong it is to do such a terrible thing. Everyone should be on the phone complaining about it and picketing their city government for doing these totally UNChristian things. Not just once, but everyday until it stops. There is power in numbers. One person can make change, but a group of people can move a mountain.

      The city of Fort Worth Texas brags that they destroy tent cities more than 100 times a year! I read about that in our local newspaper a few months ago. Now there's a Christian city that's so, so proud of adding more misery to the lives of the already suffering.

      I will quit being bothered by the poverty situation in this country when it ceases to be. I hope everyone who has the luxury of sitting down to a nice meal will think about all the hundreds if not thousands of people in this richest country on earth who are not so lucky and who are in fact hungry at this very moment. I hope everyone who has the luxury of a nice comfy bed and a climate controlled bedroom will think about the 3.5 million people in this country, many children and elderly, who do not have a roof much less a bed or an air conditioner/furnace.

      Again, prove you are a Christian and do the work God has given you. Help those less fortunate than yourself to get back on their feet if they are able to do so. Assist them in reclaiming their human dignity even if they are not able to help themselves. That is what Jesus said Christians should do many times over when He was amongst us. If you are not a Christian, then do these things because they are right no matter what your religious beliefs may be, and elevate yourself above the cacophony of heartless brayers.

      Ms. Peggy, I know you have a kind heart, but not everyone does, and I am speaking especially to them.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 21 months ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Au fait,

      I did not realize that people are drug tested before being eligible for food stamps prior to reading this and former comments of yours. If it is a 2 parent household, are both parents drug tested? It is a sad situation when any child goes to bed hungry due to poor parental decisions, skills, family hardships and the like. Of course I am not forgetting the adults who also sometimes have to choose between paying for food or paying other bills like medical expenses, etc. Food is one of the basic necessities. It is a shame that ANYONE EVER has to be without such a basic necessity in this country of ours or in the world at large.

    • Au fait profile image

      C E Clark 21 months ago from North Texas

      With less than 2.5% of people testing positive for drugs due to being drug tested for food stamps, millions of money that could be spent on food is instead going for useless testing. Although I understand that some people actually sleep better at night knowing the children of a minority number of drug users are going to be hungry. Nothing like teaching good judgment to newborns and young children by starving them so they make better future decisions than when they picked their junkie parents.

      One big reason children, veterans, active military families, and the elderly (over 62) are hungry is that our overpaid public servants whose base pay is 172,000 a year are continually cutting back on public assistance programs, in particular food stamps. Personally, I would like to see all congress people who vote to cut food stamps, Medicaid, social security or medicare, cut from Federal and state payrolls. Sharing this article. Also pinned to Aweseome HubPages.

      We are experiencing a heatwave again up here. Mid 90s for 2 days now and more to come. Hope all is well there.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 23 months ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Au fait,

      I can tell from your response that this topic of hungry as well as homeless people or those needing assistance for various reasons really bothers you. Sentiments are running high with upcoming elections and it looks like the tide is turning towards raising the minimum wage in many places. That will certainly help. To think that children (or anyone in this country...for that matter) goes to bed hungry is so sad. We have the means to do something about it if we put our minds to it!

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