Why Is There Food Starvation in America?
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 are stamped upon their faces and resides deep within their bellies.
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 faraway 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.
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?
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 not, at 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.
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 forego 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 unspent 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 firsthand.
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. I just remember 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?
Do you think of hungry people when you go grocery shopping?
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2009 Peggy Woods