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The Price of Hunger
Thirty-five million Americans are hungry or food-insecure. This is incredibly sad – and expensive, according to a recent study commissioned by the Sodexho Foundation. Domestic hunger costs our country $90 billion a year, the study found, through lost economic productivity, diseases, and donations to charities that serve hungry people.
“Hunger is an economic issue,” said Soxdeho President Steven J. Brady. “As such, it is everyone’s responsibility to end hunger.” While many would argue that we have a responsibility to end hunger whether or not we can give it a price tag, this study nevertheless shows many concrete ways in which hunger hurts our society.
Most of the hunger’s cost comes from health issues, such as iron deficiency, frequent colds, and depression. Brandeis health economist Donald Shepard, who directed the study’s economic analysis, noted that hunger also lowers cognitive functioning. “What was unusual about hunger was the ride range of problems associated with it,” he said (1).
Researchers found that our government could eliminate hunger by expanding our nutrition programs. Their report noted that the cost of $12 billion cost of this expansion is only 13% of what hunger is currently costing the American economy (2).
Congress will re-authorize the Food Stamp Program this year. One way that you can raise awareness about hunger is to write a letter to the editor of your local or school newspaper.
For more information on media activism, visit: http://www.bread.org/get-involved/in-the-media/. For more information on domestic hunger, see: http://www.bread.org/learn/us-hunger-issues/.
1. “Economic Impact of Hunger Affects All Americans.” EurekAlert. http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2007-06/bu-eio060507.php
2. “The Economic Cost of Domestic Hunger.” Brown, J. Larry et al. http://www.helpstophunger.org/pdfs/Economic_Cost_of_Domestic_Hunger.pdf
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