Focus on hunger and hope
April 11th, 2012
12:00 PM ET
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In a country filled with weight loss reality shows and outsized fast food combos, the omnipresence of food insecurity and hunger in the United States might come as a shock to some.

According to the USDA, 50 million people, or 16.6 percent of Americans, live in households at risk of hunger. The Supplementary Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), or food stamps, now puts food on the table for one in seven Americans. A family of three (one adult, two kids) earning more than $23,900 would not be eligible for food stamps.

The new documentary, "Hunger Hits Home," explores the crisis of childhood hunger in America through the eyes of the parents, children, anti-hunger activists, educators and politicians on the front lines of the battle. The film, which premieres April 14, is part of Food Network's ongoing partnership with Share Our Strength's No Kid Hungry Campaign to end childhood hunger in America by 2015.

Here's what's at stake in our own backyard and beyond.

Living on food stamps and charitable assistance

The food stamp challenge results: eating on $30 a week

Could you live on $30 a week?

5 Shocking statistics about hunger

Witnesses to Hunger: A portrait of food insecurity in America

Childhood malnutrition has long lasting effects

Criticism aside, food stamp program is "an essential lifeline" for 46 million people

"A time of record need" for food insecure

Lawmakers eat on a food stamp budget

School lunch as a lifeline

When school's out for summer, stomachs grumble

In Kenya, when school is out, children face starvation

Hungry at the holidays

Feeding "motel kids"

Celebrity chefs pitching in

Tom Colicchio talks childhood hunger

Eric Ripert - Feeding the needy with fancy fish

Michel Nischan talks fixing a broken food system and helping out fishing families in the Gulf

Starvation in Somalia

What starvation feels like

The funny sounding nut paste that's saving children's lives in Somalia

"Feed the world's children. This, we should be able to do."

Catch up on all Eatocracy coverage of hunger and food deserts

From our fellow food sites:

FN Dish: 4 Ways to Take Action Against Childhood Hunger Today

EatingWell: 6 Inspiring People Who Are Fighting Hunger

BlogHer Food: Poor Girl on SNAP: Using EBT at the Farmers' Market

Food52: A Day in the Life at Share Our Strength Fight Hunger With These 5 Charities

Cooking Channel: Join the Great American Bake Sale

Food Republic: Joining Bloggers to Take on Hunger

YumSugar: 5 Ways to Fight World Hunger Beyond Donating Money

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Filed under: Charity • Food Politics • Hunger • SNAP

soundoff (42 Responses)
  1. Sara

    what are the company's that went overseas for cheap labor and sell it here as if made in USA doing to help the cause

    April 21, 2012 at 6:47 pm |
  2. jim

    Give a man a fish, and you will feed him for a day.
    Teach a man to fish, and he will curse you for not giving him a fish.

    April 15, 2012 at 2:28 pm |
    • Coors

      Give a man a fish,
      Feed him for a day.
      Teach a man to fish,
      Feed him for life.
      Teach that man how to make beer,
      Show him how to live life to it's fullest.

      April 16, 2012 at 7:15 am |
  3. wrist bones

    Its like you learn my thoughts! You seem to understand a lot about this, like you wrote the book in it or something. I think that you simply can do with a few percent to power the message house a little bit, however instead of that, this is excellent blog. A great read. I will definitely be back.

    April 15, 2012 at 11:39 am |
  4. Sam Bogale Calgary Alberta

    give a man a fish, and you will feed him for a day.
    teach a man to fish, and you will feed him for life.

    Teaching people to be self sufficient and to grow food on their own.costs less, community gardens are a great idea whereby the whole community benefits and eats healthier at the same time!.

    April 12, 2012 at 3:40 pm |
  5. Wine

    The obese people should eat 50% less and give that food to the ones that are starving. We should work together, TEAMWORK!

    April 12, 2012 at 3:06 pm |
    • jim

      Thanks! I needed a good laugh today!

      April 15, 2012 at 2:30 pm |
    • Thinking things through

      Many of the people who are obese are obese because they are eating the cheap, subisdized, pre-packaged, starchy garbage sold in stores, in part because that's what they can afford. (Sometimes, it might be what they actually chooe, and prefer, too. Or it might be the only thing available in small urban convienence stores.)

      They're not necessarily eating MORE than those who are of better weight. They're just eating cheap junk, and it will show. Whether by weight or other health issues - time will tell.

      April 15, 2012 at 2:42 pm |
      • Thinking things through

        Er, "actually choose" - this font's too small today!

        April 15, 2012 at 2:43 pm |
  6. kevinB

    "Will Work For Oprah!" Shirley Levi @ #OWNTV standing up for Equality, Hunger Relief & Autism Awareness

    April 11, 2012 at 4:30 pm |
    • TRAVON


      April 11, 2012 at 6:50 pm |
  7. Free Man in the Republic of Texas

    Focus on hunger and hope

    The price of a 1 pound box of grits.

    Day OBAMA took office $0.98

    Today $1.84

    Now that's..........
    Hope and Change
    for all of the dem poors people.

    Remember “HE” will fight for you!!!

    LOL ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! LOL ! ! ! ! ! ! !

    April 11, 2012 at 4:07 pm |
    • CN Red

      He's doing a better job than that clown Bush you put in office for 8 years. Well actually, the Supreme Court appointed him President and the jacked up Ohio state vote count got him "reelected" but surely you get my point.

      April 12, 2012 at 7:07 am |
  8. inachu

    Hey look we have outsoured all the meaningful jobs of Americans so more americans now starving!
    Lets make an article to show them how to deal with less or be like Bachmann and state that we should get rid of teh minimum wage so all people can work no matter what at any pay rate thus eliminating unemployment! There is a picture of Bachmann and her quote with a country like that and people who live in slums! The removal of the middle class is purely the economic hitman at work. You americans do not deserve that 40k job a year when they can make a vietnamese or indian do it for half as much!
    Seriously America has sold its soul to the devil and warring in the name of god and oil and you get a pittance of an article such as this on how to do more with less. We Americans should be outraged!
    Ban NAFTA and bring back the Americna jobs so we can pay Americans to feed their families properly!

    April 11, 2012 at 3:34 pm |
    • Skittles

      Except that for jobs to return to America, Americans need to be able to do the jobs. And let's be honest, America is filled with millions of people who haven't even graduated high school. What use are they to society?

      The only way to bring back jobs to America is for people to get out there, work hard, and graduate school and even consider college. If people can't even do that, they have no right to whine about not having a job.

      April 11, 2012 at 4:23 pm |
    • LuLu

      exactly, we certainly shouldn't expect americans to buy a couple of packets of seeds and grow some of their own food. that's what factory jobs are for.

      April 12, 2012 at 12:43 am |
  9. Lisa Ann

    Shortly after suffering a spinal injury, I had two failed spinal surguries. My husband died shortly afterwards. Our daughter was only 22 months old at the time. I have one daughter. Disabled widow. Since then, I have rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, advanced degenerative disk disease, carpal tunnel, amoung other health issues. I don't sit and eat bonbons all day long, I quit smoking with a two pack a day habit, lost 60 pounds, don't drink, and am working on staying as pain free as possible. There are days I can't even push my daughter on the swing let along carry a gallon of milk home from the store. Don't drive. Just short of 40 years old. I qualify for a whole $16 worth of food stamps. Yep... $16! I do what I can with what I have. Are there people who abuse the system? Yes. There was a news article on a local station about a young lady who could not feed her children but she just happen to have a livingroom tv that was the size of the whole wall. How does that work? Either way, if we all spent a little less time judging, and a little more time helping our neighbors, we would all be better off. Bake some muffins, and knock on their door. Say hello. Offer to lift their bags. Whatever. But sitting in judgement never solved anything. Instead of spending all that cash on needless things, spend that same amount on someone you know needs a little help. We all know someone... :-/

    April 11, 2012 at 3:09 pm |
    • LK

      I agree!! Stop judging. It is unfortunate that there are people out there who abuse the system but that is not everyone. I work for a hunger relief agency and I have met the adults and children who rely on this aid but often times it isn't enough. Not everyone trades it for drugs/liquor/etc....There are people with good intentions out there who, like you Lisa, are working as hard as they can to get by but unfortunately it isn't enough. We need to learn to help those in need without judging. Many of these ignorant comments below break my heart because I have seen those who truly need assistance and don't abuse the system. Just because one or two people do it does not mean everyone who benefits from SNAP, FoodShare, WIC or any other government funding program abuses it. Stop looking through a tunnel. Best of luck to you and your daughter Lisa.

      April 11, 2012 at 3:52 pm |
    • hahahahaha

      Preaching on cnn about how to treat people does just as much good as judging. Life is a judgement, deal with it.

      April 11, 2012 at 6:51 pm |
  10. taxedmore

    Food Stamps is only one of the 15 food giveaway programs, here is the complete list:
    1. Food Stamp Program (now called SNAP – It's a SNAP to get free food) (note, the territory of Guam is in the food stamp program, 25% of its citizens receive FSs and has 50,000 people on Medicaid or the Medically Indigent Program BUT the citizens of Guam pay NO federal income taxes- they just get the freebies, compliments of the American taxpayers)
    2. Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC)
    3. WIC Farmers Market Nutrition Program
    4. National School Lunch Program
    5. School Breakfast Program
    6. Summer Food Service Program
    7. Emergency Food Assistance Program
    8. Child and Adult Care Food Program
    9. Commodity Supplemental Food Program
    10. Special Milk Program
    11. Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations
    12. Nutrition Program for the Elderly
    13. Commodity Distribution to Charitable Institutions and to Soup Kitchens and Food Banks
    14. Nutrition Education and Training Program
    15. Nutrition Assistance Program in Puerto Rico and the Northern Mariana Islands (note – in Puerto Rico 50% of the population is on the program, that's right – half the population! In addition 1,000,000 of them are on Medicaid. AND the citizens of Puerto Rico DO NOT pay federal income tax. It's all just a huge giveaway of American taxpayer dollars.)

    April 11, 2012 at 3:04 pm |
  11. No name

    Let's see.... This country has food stamps, AFDC, welfare, free school lunches and sometimes breakfasts, homeless shelters, a myriad of charities and food give-away programs, with subsidized housing and free medical services to fill in the gap, and some people are still going hungry? Something is out of joint. When I see TV reports of hungry people in Africa, they are all emaciated or bloated because of malnutrician. When the TV reports on hungry people in the U.S., they are all at least 20 lbs overweight! Like the post from Brandy, they not only sell the food stamps for drugs, but for liquor, cigarettes, and gambling.

    April 11, 2012 at 2:27 pm |
    • zoey

      wait a second
      i thought we had an obesity problem in this country
      so we have both?
      50 million are starving
      50 million are obese
      there is the solution
      take food from the obese and give to starving

      April 11, 2012 at 3:48 pm |
      • LK

        Food insecurity looks different than it does in third world countries. It's cheaper to buy a bag of potato chips than a bundle of grapes or raspberries. Fresh is more expensive than processed so those who aren't making enough money or rely on government assistance may not have access to the healthy, nutritious foods they need. I'm not saying all obese people are food insecure, but you never know someone's situation until you're in it.

        April 11, 2012 at 3:54 pm |
        • nolazy

          You don't get obese without eating too much. If you're eating too much, you can't be hungry from lack of food.

          April 11, 2012 at 4:04 pm |
        • LAW

          Wow, you hit the nail on the head! Our family did a complete life change several years ago and began really eating super healthy and joined the YMCA and were really doing well.. however in the last 3 years we have had to cancel our gym membership and can no longer afford to purchase lean meats and all the fresh fruits and vegetables that we were before. I have even had to get creative with meals that don't use meat at least 1 or 2 times a week because we can't afford it anymore. We live in AZ where it is so hot, but we tried a garden and it was a major failure and our water bill went up, so it cost more than we got out of it.

          April 12, 2012 at 3:44 am |
        • Thinking things through

          nolazy, yes you can. If you can only afford cheap junk, you are NOT getting true nutrition. You can indeed be starving - not, say, for starches, but certainly for healthy plant and protein ingredients. THAT's why some are obese They are eating too much... garbage - but there's not enough quality food people in these situations can afford, short of dumpster diving or raising their own food in some sunless closet.

          They are starving for essential nutrients. Certainly, you could feel "full" on a diet of, say, packing "peanuts", but do you derive any real benefit?

          April 15, 2012 at 2:50 pm |
  12. Terry

    This wouldn't be a problem if people didn't look at having kids as a government paycheck . Be responsible and do not expect those who behave responsibly to support all your wants.

    April 11, 2012 at 2:26 pm |
    • Thinking things through

      I'd say most of them are NOT the Octa-mom.

      April 15, 2012 at 2:51 pm |
  13. Chanel

    Children are going hungry in the USA. The discussion of politics is not going to feed them. ACTA NON VERBA.

    April 11, 2012 at 2:22 pm |
    • taxedmore

      You are right. The parents (or breeding couples) should be feeding them.

      April 11, 2012 at 3:05 pm |
  14. Brandy

    Where I live, food stamps are traded for drugs and that is one of the reasons the children go hungry.

    April 11, 2012 at 2:08 pm |
  15. Burbank

    How about people using birth control and responsibly limiting family size? Then we won't have hunger to begin with. Having children you can't afford to feed and raise is child abuse!

    April 11, 2012 at 2:01 pm |
    • taxedmore

      It becomes even more abuse when the taxpayers are forced to feed and raise their kids.

      April 11, 2012 at 3:07 pm |
  16. Gayle

    Despite any well intentioned efforts of the government, no program will have long lasting benefits that does not encourage individuals to become more self sufficient with regards to food security and economic well being.

    April 11, 2012 at 1:58 pm |
    • zowie!

      So, how do you use a program to "encourage" individuals? What a bunch of PC speak!

      April 11, 2012 at 2:58 pm |
      • LuLu

        give a man a fish, and you will feed him for a day.
        teach a man to fish, and you will feed him for life.

        teach people how they can produce/grow food on their own. food doesn't grow in stores, and mcdonalds. and growing a sustainable amount of produce to feed your family costs less than a meal and doesn't require a lot of effort. teach communities how to grow community gardens where there isn't a lot of gardening room for each individual. they'll eat healthier too.

        April 12, 2012 at 12:40 am |
    • LaLa

      Agreed ! My parents had nine children yet we were never hungry. We were nearly completely self-sufficient, eating precious little grocery store food.

      April 11, 2012 at 3:13 pm |
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