Americans Underestimate Our Hunger Problem
By Sarah Godfrey
Americans underestimate the problem of hunger in the United States—even at a time when so many in this country are experiencing it firsthand.
According to a recent public opinion poll from Participant Media, the company behind the documentary A Place at the Table, roughly 61 percent of Americans have, at some point, received assistance from the government or from a food bank or soup kitchen to help feed themselves, and more than 7 in 10 Americans know someone who has struggled to put food on the table. And while 4 out of 5 survey respondents said that they thought food insecurity is a problem in America, the majority of them were unaware of the scope of the problem.
"Most Americans are surprised to hear that there are 50 million suffering from food insecurity in America," according to "Food Insecurity in America: U.S. Public Opinion About Solving Hunger and Obesity." On average, those polled thought the number to be around 19 million.
In a Takepart.com piece about the poll that ran last week, writer Allan MacDonnell wrote that the most outstanding finding that this data brings to light is that "[w]e haven’t summoned the will to feed the people who live here."
Americans definitely want to work to address hunger, though. The report found that more than 90 percent of Americans have previously made a food donation, either physical or monetary, to help those in need, but less than a quarter of those polled said they'd be willing to call their congressional representative to advocate for policies to end hunger in America—even though the vast majority of food for the hungry comes from federal programs. Considering ongoing federal budget negotiations that place key anti-hunger and anti-poverty programs at risk, that attitude toward advocacy must change—and fast.
Sarah Godfrey is Bread for the World's associate online editor.
Write your members of Congress and urge them to ensure a place at the table for all people by providing adequate funding for programs that address hunger and help lift people out of poverty. Then take to social media and tell your friends and family to follow your lead!
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