Hunger in the USA

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Jonah Goldberg:

I could swear Ted Kennedy said this morning on Fox News Sunday that some 36 million Americans go to bed hungry every night and 12 million of them are children (I’m quoting from memory). He insisted that the numbers were on his side. I’m sorry, but does anyone think that’s even remotely true? That systemic hunger is a chief symptom and problem of poverty in America? Come on.

It’d be good to know what Kennedy actually said. I assume he was referring to “food insecurity” as in, “In 2004, 38.2 million people lived in households experiencing food insecurity, compared to 33.6 million in 2001 and 31 million in 1999.” The Agriculture Department puts people into three category, “food secure,” “food insecure,” and “food insecure with hunger” based on answers to the questions you can find here. The essence of the “food insecurity” condition without hunger is more-or-less that a food insecure household finds its income to be a substantial constraint on food consumption. You find that your kid wants to eat more, but you can’t let him because you can’t afford more food. Members of your household need to skip meals sometimes to save money. You need to cut people’s portion sizes to make the food you have last as long as you need it to. You lose weight because of an inability to afford as much food as you’re inclined to eat.

That sort of thing rather than conditions of hunger or starvation provoked by the actual absence of food.