The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Childhood Hunger in the U.S.

Mar 15, 2010

One in four children in the U.S. is now on food stamps. Overall, the number of people receiving food stamps has reached 36 million, or one in eight Americans.

What’s more shocking than these numbers is that many millions of people in need of food stamps are not even receiving them. “...We’re mindful that there are another 15, 16 million who could benefit [from the food stamp program],” said Kevin Concannon, an undersecretary in the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

It’s not that all food-stamp recipients are free from hunger either. The average benefit per recipient is about $130 a month – which means that millions of people with little or no income are receiving less than $5 a day to cover for food ... and probably other necessities too.

All this agrees with a recent USDA study, which found that 49 million Americans experienced hunger last year – 17 million of them children. In fact, childhood hunger in the U.S. is so widespread that half of Americans receive food stamps at some point before they turn 20, according to another study done at Washington University in St. Louis.

Politicians have acknowledged the problem. But what about solving it? During his election campaign, Obama promised to end childhood hunger in the U.S. by 2015 – that is, in six years – when everyone knows that every day counts, because not getting enough nutrition can hamper a child’s development, and ruin his or her life for good!

And while Congress has recently increased food stamp benefits, it’s certainly not in step with the increase in need, and it’s only temporary. Besides, it’s state governments that administer the program, and they are reducing such services right and left – supposedly because they don’t have enough money.

When it comes to helping hungry children, the politicians are obviously not nearly as resolute as when they rushed to bail out “fat cat bankers,” as Obama himself called them recently.