Hunger Experts Say the Top Remedy Is Jobs

Catching up on things in my files…

A mid-December article in the Washington Post explores “the silent epidemic” of child hunger. Bottom line is that the problem is complex and unlikely to be solved by simply putting more money into food assistance programs.

This took me back to a webinar on the struggle against hunger in America. Anyone who’s been following the news knows the news wasn’t good.

  • Food banks in Feeding America’s network reporting an average of 30% more requests for emergency food assistance since last year.
  • An unprecedented one-year jump in the number of people who are food insecure–from 36.2 million in 2007 to more than 49 million in 2008.
  • Nearly 37.2 million people receiving food stamps in September–almost 15.6% more than in September 2007.
  • Hunger and/or dietary deficiencies among one in four of the children cared for by pediatricians in the Children’s HealthWatch network.

And more …

But, of course, we already knew that many more households are struggling with hunger–and many more children at high risk of life-long consequences. Every new report is a shocker, but not a surprise.

The surprise, for me, was what the panelists said should be done. As you’d expect, they noted needs to improve and expand federal nutrition programs. But their A-number 1 remedy was action to address the jobs crisis.

Putting people back to work will surely reduce food hardship. But just creating jobs won’t be enough. We’ll continue seeing dire figures like those above unless we make sure that those who’ve been hit hardest by the labor market contraction can find living wage jobs–a challenge for many of them even before the recession set in.

One Response to Hunger Experts Say the Top Remedy Is Jobs

  1. Matt McKillop says:

    Great post, Kathryn. It’s certainly true that many of the newly hungry children and adults lack food because a family member has lost his/her job or had his/her hours reduced. And prior to the crisis, many were hungry because of an inability to secure or maintain a job that paid a decent wage.

    I want to point out another connection that DCFPI noted recently in its blog [http://dcfpi.org/?p=1332]. A recent study produced jointly by Children’s Health Watch and Medical Legal Partnership indicates that one way to fight hunger among children is to make sure their families have affordable housing. According to the study, children in subsidized housing are less likely to go hungry and less likely to be seriously underweight than children in families on a housing waiting list.

    All of this shows that it’s vital to recognize the interconnectivity of many of the causes and consequences of poverty.

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