Economy improving,but number of hungry grows

Posted: Friday, November 28, 2003

There may be no better day to reflect on hunger than the day after Thanksgiving when lots of Americans are feeling a bit like stuffed turkeys themselves. But certainly not all Americans enjoyed a traditional feast.

"The recent rise in certain economic indicators is being embraced by some as the recipe for ending the economic stress of the past three years and giving hope for all Americans this Thanksgiving. The spiking gross domestic product (GDP), lower unemployment numbers and new job creation figures are hailed as harbingers of future rising profits and pension funds. But another harder truth lies behind these numbers. More American families continue to fall into poverty and find it difficult to put a Thanksgiving dinner on the table for their children," wrote David Beckmann, president of Bread for the World Institute, in The Washington Times earlier this week.

According to numbers released in October from the Agriculture Department, about 12 million families in the United States worried that they could not afford to buy food in 2002; 32 percent of those families experienced someone going hungry at one time or another.

"...(T)he department estimated that 3.8 million families were hungry last year to the point where someone in the household skipped meals because they couldn't afford them. That's an 8.6 percent increase from 2001, when 3.5 million families were hungry, and a 13 percent increase from 2000," The Associated Press reported.

With abundant supplies of food, supermarket shelves loaded with good things to eat, restaurants everywhere one turns and millions battling obesity, that there is hunger in America should be as paradoxical as Alaska with a $26 billion savings account saying it has no money for education, public safety and roads.

Alaska does have money in the bank, but America's poor are struggling to put food on their tables. Bread for the World estimates the U.S. could cut hunger in the country by half at a cost of $6 billion per year, about six cents per American per day.

Leaders at all levels of government, however, need to know that eliminating hunger from the world's most powerful nation and the nation's wealthiest state are priorities of the people. But Americans who have something to share don't have to wait for government to act. There are several nonprofit agencies working to eliminate hunger, including here on the Kenai Peninsula, that would welcome your help.

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