The Persistence of Hunger

We know there is hunger in the United States. We know that the virus has made this hunger worse. But rarely, safe for very few of us, think about the persistence of hunger. Photographer Brenda Anne Kenneally did, she grew up in difficult circumstances and right before the virus wanted to photograph the people and places where there is persistent hunger. When it hit in March she just went ahead, because she said, “The situations that define a life of scarcity were becoming democratized.”  The NYT published her photographic essay, America at Hunger’s Edge”, while Adrian Nicole LeBlanc wrote an accompanying article summarizing the history of helping the hungry. The point LeBlanc makes is that hunger has been treated as an emergency, as something temporary, not as something systemic, and therefore the causes of hunger have not been addressed. Lineally found that in Houston in 2019 the Mamie George Community Center gave 567,000 pounds of food—understandably a number almost matched from March to July 2020.  During the Depression our awareness of hunger started with Dorothea Lange’s iconic photograph “Migrant Mother”, a mother whose face is a poignant depiction of hunger with three of her children, a picture which increased popularity for New Deal programs. The Federal Surplus Commodities program grew out of the Depression, but hunger persisted and in the 60’s when it came to the fore led to the beginning of food stamps.  The program has undergone several changes, and had led to offshoots with several names, but usually leaves out many of the hungry, or else covers only a portion of the food needs.

We are more and more aware of economic inequalities and their consequences, and looking at hunger as a symptom and in its socioeconomic and political contexts is overdue. The causes are systemic and addressing them falls into the realm of moral imperatives.

Hunger on College Campuses

Being in school is hard. For those who have access to life’s necessities, even for those who can include some of its pleasures, it can nevertheless be the best time of their lives, but for the rest for whatever reason, it is challenge upon challenge. According to a new survey 36% of students on college campuses do not have enough to eat. The survey finds that one of the reasons for food insecurity is that jobs are not as easy to find.  There is much competition for the low paying jobs students typically get. Other reasons are “ballooning college costs”, inadequate aid packages, growing enrollment Continue reading “Hunger on College Campuses”

Hope For The Planet

A recently released report by several UN agencies shows that the number of hungry people has declined despite rise in population. It was one billion about 25 years ago and is about 795 million today. In the developing world 23.3% of the population was hungry 25 years ago. Today it is 12.9%. Progress is more pronounced in East Asia, Southeast and Central Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean. The reasons for the success are attributed to stable political conditions and economic growth. The report does not omit failures, mainly in Africa where in some areas Continue reading “Hope For The Planet”