This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Wadsworth Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 11th (which came out in December 2010), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.
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Wednesday, November 17, 2010
Is There Really Food Insecurity in the United States?
The media have been all over the recently released report by the US Department of Agriculture that 17.4 million households "had difficulty providing enough food due to a lack of resources, about the same as in 2008." Since there are 114 million total households in the country, this amounts to 15 percent of households, or roughly one in seven--and this latter figure was the major headline. The report also noted that the number of households receiving food assistance increased from 3.9 million in 2007 to 5.6 million in 2009. The Reuters news agency somehow managed to calculate this as having "nearly doubled" (come on, let's do the math!). In fact, there is essentially no food insecurity in the United States, at least not by UN Food and Agriculture Organization critera. Given the high caloric intake of the average American, not getting as much food as people want is not necessarily a sign of unhealthy deprivation. In many respects, that was actually the point of the USDA report, which celebrated the federal assistance programs that have kept hunger from the door of American households.