We often take for granted the huge cornucopia of food that we produce and consume in the United States. The Midwest and the Plains states have been called “the breadbasket of the world” because of the abundant harvests of cereal crops. California is well known as the leading producer of fresh market vegetables, accounting for roughly half of U.S. production. The State of Washington boasts the greatest apple production while Florida and California are the top two citrus producers. Texas raises the most cattle; Iowa the most hogs; Georgia the most chickens, and Indiana the most ducks. Our grocery stores are stocked abundantly with a wide selection of foods from around the nation as well as from around the world. Restaurants and eating establishments to please all palettes are found along our highways and byways, in our cities and towns, and in our neighborhoods.
Yet, there is a more somber concern amidst this horn of plenty – there is abundant hunger in the United States as there is around the world. A recent study entitled Hunger in America, conducted by Feeding America, the nation’s leading domestic hunger relief charity, found that 37 million Americans, including 14 million children, or roughly one in eight, received food assistance in 2009 – a 46 percent increase since 2005. [Read the report]
Around the globe, the matter is worse. Recent studies by the United Nations World Food Programme concluded that more than 1.02 billion people around the world are undernourished, meaning roughly one in six individuals do not get enough food to remain healthy and thus face hunger, malnutrition, and greater susceptibility to disease. The highest concentrations are in Africa, Haiti, India, Mongolia, and other portions of Asia and Central America.
Back home in Indiana, the situation is equally dire. Indiana’s Food for the Hungry, a program run by the Department of Food and Nutrition at Purdue University, concluded that more than 10 percent of Indiana households are unable to provide sufficient food for themselves and their families.
While we all enjoy speaking and thinking about our favorite foods and cuisines, it is also essential for us to focus on those who do not have enough food to remain healthy. Their concerns are far different from those of us who know that our pantries are well-stocked. Where will my next meal come from? Are there places where I can obtain food if I don’t have a job or a home? Will my children have sufficient food to be healthy and avoid becoming ill? Does anyone really care?
This section seeks to explore the difficult issue of hunger and food security. We want to focus on a variety of issues here:
- The causes of hunger and food insecurity.
- Studies that inform us of the extent of the problem locally, nationally, and globally.
- The institutions, agencies, and programs that are working to address these concerns.
- The ways in which each of us can become involved to fight hunger and food insecurity.
We want this section to highlight successes, identify areas and localities of need, and promote “best practices”— as well as to get ideas from you.