Hungry America
America’s Most Desperate: Why are 50 Million Americans Starving?

Americans live in the world’s wealthiest nation yet close to 50 million struggle to put…

Americans live in the world’s wealthiest nation yet close to 50 million struggle to put food on the table. Compounding this is Washington’s apathy towards the condition of middle and lower income Americans devastated by poverty.

Lucy Reyna is a veteran of the Iraq war. A mother of three young children, she returned home from her second tour in 2007. She was diagnosed with panic disorder and generalised anxiety disorder because of what she experienced in combat. Then she was told she had both cervical and breast cancer.

Unable to work, Lucy relied on food stamps to feed her family. She also frequented a food bank that supplied her family with groceries and baked goods that store owners were about to throw out. “I was constantly looking up different resources, trying to dig myself out of this hole,” she says. “The hardest part was not knowing when it would get better,” she says. “I had such a bleak outlook and was always stressed trying to make ends meet. It felt hopeless.”

According to a 2014 survey by Feeding America – which feeds 46 million hungry Americans – about 25 per cent of military households require food assistance because military salaries are often too low to cover the cost of daily life.

 Loudoun County in Virginia is made up of one of the wealthiest communities in the US. But it’s also where Barbara Diaz, a nanny, struggles to feed her family of eight. While the median income in the county stands at $122,000 a year, Diaz, 55, makes about $21,600 a year as a nanny. With her salary, she has to feed her family and pay rent, car insurance and utilities. Often, she doesn’t have enough at the end of the month for food, so she turns regularly to her local food pantry for help. She’s one medical emergency away from destitution. 

Robert, a Vietnam veteran in his 60s, is a descendant of a long line of American servicemen. Five years ago, he lost his home in Florida and moved to Connecticut, where he now lives out of a van. Often, the only hot meal he has is at the community soup kitchen. Robert’s hardest days are Wednesday and Sunday when the charity doesn’t operate; then he has nothing to eat.

 Five years after the death of her husband, Rosalinde Block found herself at a New York food pantry, in desperate need of food to feed herself and her teenage son. She is no ordinary American. According to ABC News, the 61-year-old graduated from an elite American college and made her life as a musician, illustrator, author and teacher of music and art.

 Roy is a casualty of the New England fishing industry that went bust in 2007. With nothing in the way of savings, the then 39-year-old found himself homeless for the first time in his life. Hunger has forced the once proud Maryland resident to visit local charities.

Close to 50 million Americans do not know where their next meal will come from.

America may or may not be the land of the free, but it is certainly the land of the hungry. Job losses, home foreclosures and other recent crises have been life-altering for Americans, with close to 50 million Americans who do not know where their next meal will come from. That’s one in six Americans struggling with hunger.

Image source: Google Image Search

This is the official figure from December 2010 and experts say the current figure could be higher. “The numbers are provided by the US Department of Agriculture,” Ross Fraser of Feeding America, the nation’s leading domestic hunger-relief charity, told this writer via email.

Doctors at American clinics say they have seen a dramatic increase in the number of children they treat who are dangerously thin; that’s not surprising considering hunger is an everyday reality for 16 million American children.


Middle America hurting

What is worrying the American elites is the demographic that is seeking help. Most of the newcomers that show up at Feeding America’s centers are from middle class backgrounds and had until now managed without handouts.

All across the country, from LA to New York, it seems the soup kitchen lines are getting longer. And requests are so high, food centres nationwide are turning away the hungry. “We will soon have the most food stamps recipients in the history of our country,” says Jim Weill, president of the Food Research and Action Center.

America may or may not be the land of the free, but it is certainly the land of the hungry.

Indeed, right now many are fighting for their lives. A USDA report says more than a third of these households “had very low food security — meaning that the food intake of one or more adults was reduced and their eating patterns were disrupted at times during the year because the household lacked money and other resources for food”.

Unequal society

So why does a country that spends more on its military than the next 11 nations combined have so many people in such dire straits? How can so many be hungry in a country that has bought 185 F-22 stealth fighters at $361 million each?

Image credit: CNBC

The chief reason is that America – like Britain – is among the most unequal societies in the world; it is a country where the wealthy have a huge disconnect with ordinary folk. It is disturbing to many but American leaders do not see the irony in doling out $700 billion to bail out New York’s rogue bankers while 40 per cent of New Yorkers have problems affording food.

Unemployment is growing even as new jobs are not being created. Washington cites an unemployment rate of 9 per cent, but according to the financial website Zero Hedge, if you include the number of Americans who have stopped looking for work or who are unemployable, then the real figure is 17 per cent or 51 million out of work.

Invisible killer

According to a USDA official, hunger is very much a hidden problem. “When you walk by people who may be hungry, it’s not necessarily evident they’re hungry. This is something that low-income people don’t talk about a great deal.”

American leaders do not see the irony in doling out $700 billion to bail out New York’s rogue bankers while 40 per cent of New Yorkers have problems affording food.

Worse, those who can help are looking the other way. What most people would describe as hunger, the USDA couches it in the euphemism “food insecure”. And deaths caused by malnutrition are passed off by hospitals and coroners as  “natural causes” or “failure of bodily organs”.

During the Great Depression of the 1920s, millions lost their homes and ended up in the streets. Today, foreclosures are again forcing people out of their homes. The greater danger for poor – and a growing number of middle class – Americans in the 21st century is they are not just competing with each other for food and resources. In the backdrop of declining incomes and rising unemployment in the US, keeping in step with more than two and half billion Chinese and Indian consumers in the global marketplace is going to be a tall order.

Rakesh is a journalist at New Zealand’s leading media house. He mostly writes on defence and foreign affairs.
His articles have been quoted extensively by universities and in books on diplomacy, counter terrorism, warfare, and development of the global south; and by international defence journals.
Rakesh’s work has been cited by leading think tanks and organisations that include the Naval Postgraduate School, California; US Army War College, Pennsylvania; Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Washington DC; State University of New Jersey; Institute of International and Strategic Relations, Paris; BBC Vietnam; Siberian Federal University, Krasnoyarsk; Centre for Air Power Studies, New Delhi; Institute for Defense Analyses, Virginia; International Center for Not-for-Profit Law, Washington DC; Stimson Centre, Washington DC; Foreign Policy Research Institute, Philadelphia; and Institute for Strategic, Political, Security and Economic Consultancy, Berlin.
His articles have been published by the Centre for Land Warfare Studies, New Delhi; Foundation Institute for Eastern Studies, Warsaw; and the Research Institute for European and American Studies, Greece, among others.
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  • bharatpremi

    Many of the Americas youth are in college… some continuing college because they cannot get jobs and student loans are there for the taking. If you include this population…. the number of govt dole is much larger…

  • Pericles

    Yes, the US President should not preach to India since India stands at 63rd place out of 120 countries on Global Hunger Index of 2013 and out of an estimated 1.27 billion population of India around 77 percent fails to get even a two square meals per day. The country produces more than 200 million tons of food grains a year and the Food Corporation of India’s (FCI) stocks of wheat and rice have risen to a never-before high of 6.10 lakh tonnes, nearly twice the amount required under safe buffer norms. The government of India holds more food grain than it can, while the poor are squeezed more and more by the cost of basic food grains and yet we hypocrites talk about the Americans starving.

    • ccc

      “out of an estimated 1.27 billion population of India around 77 percent fails to get even a two square meals per day” what are you smoking ?

      Whatever be our condition why does America should preach us ? still stuck in the white man’s burden philosophy.

    • Globalaryan

      before you rant and rave about the food wastage in India, please check the amount of food wasted in U.S. since you’re supporting U.S. president preaching India. They have absolutely no moral right or authority to be preaching India on this. We know the problem and are taking steps to deal with it. Moreover, I can take this preaching from Sweden, Germany, Norway or other progressive nations but definitely not U.S. with it’s hypocritical, immoral and wildly demented policies.

      • Pericles

        So what is the measure of your moral right or authority for preaching to India and who should do it? When you cant find a model Indian politician or icon to preach for the present generation, its time we look up to one globally wherever deserving in the world like our forefathers. You cant find true yogic gurus, imams or Papal priests from Sweden, Germany or Norway to preach anyways since the percentage of population of those who are not affiliated with religion is more in those less violent countries(Sweden, Germany.Norway) than us when compared globally!!!!!!!!!

        • Globalaryan

          Not sure if you’re an Indian or not but any conscious, self-aware Indian would know that we have enough intellectual capital within India to give us the guidance. it’s certain self-loathing Indians ridden with inferiority who always look for solutions outside of India. There’s no discussion of religion here so lets stay to the point and don’t bring religion into everything when you run out of any sound arguments!!!!!

          • Pericles

            So why did a certain Indian Mr. NR Narayana Murthy (Infosys co-founder) say at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) in 2015 that India hasn’t done any “earth shattering” innovation in the last 60 years if self-aware Indians would know that we have enough intellectual capital within India to give us the guidance and please dont blame the Congress rule for that for heavens sake !!!. The self proud Indians might try to ponder and parrot his statement as an answer: “We have the poorest public health service in the world. We have the dirtiest rivers in the world. Our vehicles produce the highest carbon per vehicle in the world. We have the lowest per-capita usable water in the world. Our primary education is one of the lowest quality in the world.” So why is someone called a self-loathing Indian ridden with inferiority when they show the true and self respecting Indian his or her true view around the world? There is also no point in arguing with someone who only looks at religious aspect of an argument (i.e. Yoga is an achievement of India) and not its holistic and positive views and always remembers there are two sides to a coin Cheers!!!!!!!!!

          • Globalaryan

            Your comments are illogical and borderline delusional and reflect poorly on your personality – you’re a judgmental, hypocritical, arrogant, bigot fool. And if you’re an Indian, you’re the self-loathing type that is part of the problem and not the solution. Also, How do you know that I don’t know diaspora when I’ve been one myself and still am. Did I blame Congress in my comments anywhere?!! Did I deny that India (like other nations) has it’s share of problems that need to be tackled. But I refuse to listen to your hypocritical rants and advice to us given by hypocrites who don’t have the propensity to fix their own home and are going around giving advice to others?!!

            And listen up, a certain Narayana Murthy comes along and makes a statement that India hasn’t made any “earth shattering” innovation in last 60 years and you take it at a face value without applying your own brains behind it? What does he mean by “earth shattering” – a nuclear bomb? Also, he doesn’t speak for Indians and in fact basing on the fact that the lions share of his business comes from outsourcing deals from U.S., there shouldn’t be any doubt that he speaks to please his foreign clients/governments. Along with quoting murthy, why don’t you ask him what he or his company has done to promote R&D or innovation in India?? You’ll find the answer there. Do you need a bigger proof of self-loathing and hypocrisy?

            In terms of scientific progress, you may not know or feel proud about it but the public and private sector of India has done exemplary work despite the setback faced due to colonial occupation.We’ve done well but there’s certainly room for more and we are on track.

          • Pericles

            Chill mate!!!! All sane debaters are open to hearing what you have to say and having a polite discussion about it, but I have a policy of ignoring people who take a malicious approach to conversation and accusing others of delusion from which the accuser himself suffering. Your rants suggest you require immediate psychiatric treatment and I apologize that I instigated your gut feelings. So with the kind of technical education system that India has produced after Independence, Narayana Murthy can only promote the business processing outsourcing robots that his company can churn out from India and not the R&D or innovation which India actually deserves. How many original researchers or Nobel Laureates has India produced after Independence to fuel our R&D or innovation. What about our IIT/IIM brain drain/export system to western countries for higher salaries while our educational system which produced those brains are left to rot.

            An earth shattering innovation is not only a nuclear bomb but several others not limiting to food revolution, armed forces, space and missile programs, epidemic and disease eradication and technical education. These are the few areas where India has focused on after Independence and made rapid strides in progress. However, India lacks in original research in physiology or medicine, physics, economic sciences and chemistry which is shown by the absence of Nobel Laureates in our country where as some countries have more than 50 Laureates for the same Indian independent era from 1947 to now. We are the second highest in population in the world along with our 8th position in polluting the environment with our CO2 emission rate but our human development index, per capita GDP, and quality of life ranking is very low. India is ranked 33rd in the World Happiness report measuring six factors real GDP per capita, healthy life expectancy, perceived freedom to make life choices, freedom from corruption, and generosity. That is the naked truth you or me as an Indian have to view without any shame and accept that as a nation we are still work in progress and certainly not on track when compared with several developing or developed nations over the years.

            I felt something that you said fell under this heading, and if you’d like to try again with a saner approach, I’d be happy to have a conversation with you. If i don’t reply to you subsequently, do understand that i consider a serious conversation with you an utter waste of yours and my precious time since you don’t have the proof of any measures to track India’s progress over the years or evidence that India is on track in progress with the rest of the modern world resulting in equal and sustained well being of its citizens. So peace bro!!!!!

          • Globalaryan

            You have some distorted sense of dialogue and communication, which is typical of dishonest, hypocrite people of low integrity and those who lack fairness and objectivity in their outlook. To prove this you said in your comment “I too agree that there is certainly no point in arguing with someone who is insecure, defensive and clueless” then when someone responds back in the same tone, then you start complaining and ask to chill out and rant about “sane” communication.

            Respect in communication and otherwise is a two-way street. If you actually read, I agree that India has it’s share of problems to deal with and deal we will. If you come here and start commenting with the only goal to denigrate and disrespect India and it’s people, then it’s not a healthy criticism, it is mud-slinging. Then you further show your hypocrisy by condoning that we should listen to the americans while everyone knows that they don’t have their own house in order. Don’t expect any garlands here with that hypocritical attitude! And sorry I have better things to do than to trying to “communicate” with closed minded people..

          • Pericles

            Nobody expects any garlands in any negative analysis and feedback. Great to know that we have better things to do rather than being pricked by self assessment facts. Constructive assessment of the reality of living in India is the naked truth that its true citizens will portray everywhere around the world, and there’s nothing in the whole wide world to hide that highly immense insecurity as an Indian when someone talks about the reality that is India.

            Self judgmental anecdotes regarding assumptions of disrespecting India and its people without evidence for the measures of dealing with problems of India which in turn doesn’t portray the real Indian environment. We certainly know for a fact that millions of Indians like us are jovial and comfortable around people they like and care like those around the world in more horrible conditions. We also trust that as experience passes on from one generation to another in this conservative age, the process of gradual change of the ‘real’ educated Indian citizen also is in progress and its proper implementation might give us the mental security we require to take up negative feedback as easy as possible. Till that time Peace, mate!!!!

  • NK Sarma

    Don’t waste time reading the article, here is the entire article in single line ’50million americans are hungry because america is an unequal society and gave $700B bail out for banks’.

    • Globalaryan

      Really? the article has more info than that including stats. it gives specific reasons for this state and some thought provoking analysis. clearly you don’t believe much in analysis and details.

      • NK Sarma

        Analysis should support the hypothesis. This is what I believe. The title of the article is not justified in the content. All the stats and analysis you are loving here do not answer ‘why americans are starving’, if at all. Just my opinion.

  • Seel

    Groceries are cheap but most people don’t know how to cook in USA also their taste is different. For 10 dollars a day one can feed their family with nutritious food but most want to eat out costing 100 dollars.

    • Ashok Vardhan

      Are you talking about India or the U.S. ? 6 large red onions (regular – not organic) cost me the same as a gallon of gas at today’s rate ($4.20) Stop wasting comment space. Groceries are not cheap.

      • Seel

        Why you need 6 large onions, are you in catering business, you need to price accordingly for your product!

  • Dr. MS

    How much do the Christian churches spend on overseas conversion amidst this poverty and growing disparity in the US?

    Also, amidst this growing poverty and disparity not only do Americans keep spending a lot on military issues…but also on policing, security and prisons.

    There are concerns and contradictions on these matters…

    The contradiction is that while “civil rights of ordinary Americans are being eroded real Jihadist threats and domestic terrorist threats remain high”.

    Conservatives want to restrict women’s reproductive rights, but they also want to send large numbers of healthy young men to wars all over the world to be killed, maimed and disabled for life.

    Americans believe in individualism and individual effort, but they keep blaming the poor, with few resources, for not pulling themselves by the bootstrap when they have no boots, or the strap keeps getting broken.

    In one community the public, in stead of voting for a much needed public library that would help children and adults (read more and read better), voted to have another baseball field.

    In the US poverty also comes with a lot of dysfunctionality (like the veterans with PTSD, drug addiction problems and other difficulties).

    Many Americans are stuck not only in poverty but also in violence, racism, sexism, addictions, gang violence….and generational poverty (like Native Americans, African Americans…due to persistent structural inequities).

    Even scarier is the growing number of Indians, immigrants and Americans, showing up for food stamps, moving into homeless shelters and one Indian woman, with two children. was living in her car when her husband left her. Indian Hindu temples in the US are forced to deal with a lot of these problems,,,but are not prepared for it. At least Churches are involved in community issues and problems. Hindu temples merely do rituals and do not deal with real life problems, poverty, disparity, mental health issues and social concerns. .

    The US has become, as one comedian noted, “a bizarrO land”…with too many weird contradictions.

    While the rich get richer…the middle class is sliding down, and the poor are getting poorer. For many decades the poor were mostly minorities, immigrants, people of color, Blacks and the hidden people. Now they are visible, they are growing in numbers, they are part of a struggling or sliding-back middle class and they are Anglos.

    How much do the Christian churches spend on overseas conversion amidst this poverty and growing disparity?

    Look at Southern Poverty Law Center research…. very telling.

    • Globalaryan

      Your reply misses the point completely and just rhetoric and jingoism defending U.S. How do you explain american elite leadership approving $700 B in bail outs for the already fat cat NY bankers when there is such widespread poverty in the country and like the article says 40% of NY’ers have problem affording food???? Your answer would be admittance of a messed up, morally bankrupt system and government. So I don’t expect you to admit that after all american govt. and their associated NGO supporters and bootlicking sycophants are world class hypocrites…

      Clearly this ‘pro-activeness, innovation, and creative problem solving” that you rave about has only worked to solve the so-called problems of the elite rich ruling class!!!

      • Dr. MS

        I have written articles opposing and criticizing the bailout, while your Indian buddies supported it. You do not know more than half of my views, values or my fighting work for justice….So stop pontificating with your cheap sexism and assumptions. Third rate Hindu thinking like yours is the biggest problem for Hinduism anywhere.

        • Globalaryan

          And now along with being a feminazi you’re a racist too!…another reason why NO ONE here should take your delusional rantings here seriously AT ALL!!

  • White America is well fed and non White America is starving. Let Obama address issues of his own society before he preaches to India.

  • Vikram

    When I came to US in 1970, I heard the news media reports saying the same thing – that there are children going to bed hungry and many poor people are not having a balanced food. However, those days I lived a good life earning the minimum wage of $1.45 an hour. Chicken was 35cents a pound, rice and pulse were ridiculously cheap. I wondered why are people going hungry when they could feed the whole family in one dollar. Later I found out that many Americans don’t want to cook.
    They want to eat out. Many does not want to eat rice and pulse. They want to eat steak, which is expensive. Money they get under welfare is spent buying alcohol. Besides, poverty is among people where the women have children without a husband. In all self respecting immigrant families from Asia both husband and wife works. They save money and buy a house. In one parent families, the women does not work. She says the cost of baby sitting for the several children out of wedlock is more
    than the money she can earn. True. Keep the family together.

    • cool

      CBS documentary on Hunger in America (1968)

    • Dr. MS

      I agree Vikram, Indians are not smart enough to figure out why they write certain articles, and how it is interpreted or will be perceived. This article is exactly the kind of article that Communists in the US want, and promote. It is not International Communism or Developing Nation Communism, that focuses on Third world issues, rights and security. It is about American Communism. America going from Capitalism, that gave White people much wealth, to Communism…that will give Americans, mostly Whites, distributed wealth.

      Bernie Sanders, who will oppose Hillary in the upcoming Presidential race, and is gaining traction, is a Socialist from Vermont. The State is 94% White, is rural and it has an interesting history of independent Anglo men who neither wanted New York Elitist European Socialism to dominate them, nor New Hampshire Individual Capitalism to usurp them. They wanted to be independent, free and pursue their own their way. And that is the philosophy of Bernie Sanders’ Socialism that theoretically is against “the wealthy 1 and 5 percenters…millionaires and billionaires and the banks”. But in reality Vermont is 94% White, does not have much diversity, does not understand diversity – not even Black issues It is rural, and Bernie has supported gun ownership because of hunting lobby (that he himself is part of).”. That is the face of American communism. It is provincial, rural, parochial, “me centered” and it is Anglo Boy Anglocentric Communism…focused purely on material distribution and justice….while things like culture, feminine energy and rights, female power, spirituality, international justice, etc…are completely ignored or slighted”.

      These articles must be written for the American socialists and American communists who are now working over time in the US to make people realize that “immigration is affecting local labor and wages…including in the IT sector (with copious numbers of techno servants and slaves from countries like India, many of whom are globalizing while also losing their mind, values, culture, community and vision in the process). They, the American Communists, also feel American labor, mostly Anglo labor, are being forgotten in globalization and want all military expenditure to be put on hold or borne by Third world countries for their own benefit….”

      American Capitalism or American Communism…it is “a good ole Anglo Christian or Anglo Atheist boys’ ism”.

      And our male idiots, who are good at only bullying their women and children, play right into it.

      You got it dude, but only partially.

      Best wishes….

      Dr. MS

      • Globalaryan

        you need to try harder, all sensible people can see through your comments, and your defense of U.S. and denigrating attitude towards India and Indian men. I won’t be surprised if you’re propped up by one of the NGOs that made India’s Daughter. You’re nothing but a hypocrite, a pathological liar, and an insecure person that you have to write Dr. in your name for people to take you seriously.

        • Dr. MS

          I have lived in the US and studied social problems in the US. I am a social science faculty. And you spew out your insecurities and call it “facts”. It is hateful Hindu men like you, with sexism, crude language and unscientific thinking, who are the enemies within. Goddess help this nation.

          • Globalaryan

            You have absolutely no clue and your comments show your level of ignorance and stupidity trying to impress people with your degrees, guess what I hire and fire people like that everyday. Any sensible person after reading our comments can judge whose thinking is unscientific, – your biased generalizations based on hollywood/media created imagery or fact based and objective analysis from me. And FYI, Feminazi, who starts first ranting and raving about men and especially south asian men and then complain about sexism. it is you! You’re a pathetic whiner, hypocrite and a pathological liar to boot!!

          • Dr. MS

            You are fired! Now stop your ranting, and take your immature comments elsewhere. You have proven to me that Indian men, at least the likes of you, are insecure, defensive, arrogant, clueless, unselfaware and highly unenlightened. Thanks for proving my point over and over again with your behavior and communication. Good luck, I can imagine the mediocrity you hire and promote.

          • Globalaryan

            LOL, It is clear to all here about who is arrogant, insecure, clueless, unselfaware (that’s not even a proper word) and shall I ignorant – that is YOU as you rely on just peddling your petty degree for people to take your retarded, delusional, rantings seriously. You’re hypocrisy, bigotry, and ignorance impersonated. On top of that you’re a racist bigot for your open hatred of Hindus. So GTFO this site which is for the defence of Hindus!! Why the hell do you come here? If you’re going to spew venom and hatred against Hindus here, you won’t get garlands here but instead you’ll get a few swift kicks in your behind like you just did.

            I fired your arrogant a$$ first for your mediocrity and stupid and of course for being racist feminazi. You don’t need to imagine the mediocrity that I hire and promote – I don’t because I fire them just like I fired you!! Now GTFO feminazi!!

  • JayZ

    UKs not far behind check

  • mprakashm

    These people’s spend billions to india to convert indians… Not even have money for food… Shame on you christians..

  • cool

    US social security Swindle

    “Owing primarily to Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, the U.S. government’s true debt amounts to more than $200 trillion dollars according to some economists.

  • cool

    To better understand US there are must read books

    1. Social Security Swindle

    2. America : Freedom to Fascism

    3. The biggest scam