Hunger and Poverty: A Divided America
Poverty manifests itself differently in different places, but it is universally difficult and unappealing to those who must live with it every day. Pervasive hunger and food insecurity extend into all American communities affecting families, the working poor, and a disproportionate number of minority citizens and children. There is ample food production, a sophisticated transportation system, and extensive distribution networks , yet 35.6 million individuals experience food insecurity. This is not primarily a food production problem, but one of inadequate incomes impacting access. In 2006, 12% of Americans lived in poverty, with annual incomes of $ 20,000 for a family of four. Nearly 25% of workers earn low income wages that keep families in poverty . Poverty guidelines underestimate livable wages. Low-income (up to 200% of poverty level) is considered a better indicator of economic risk. Nearly one-third of Americans are low-income, including 40% of America's children. There is a widening gap between the haves and have-nots; indeed, 'the top 1 percent of households received 70 times as much in average after-tax income as the bottom one-fifth of households in 2005. What are the economic, social, political, community and individual actions needed to address short and long-term solutions of food insecurity and poverty? This paper will consider hunger and poverty terms, trends, health and nutrition impacts, as well as consider proposed local, regional, and national intervention solutions and strategies. This program was developed as a part of the University Dialog Program.