One in eight Americans is hungry

perspectives

By Amy Flis
<[email protected]>

“Chestnuts roasting on an open fire. Jack Frost nipping at your nose.” That’s how the song goes. However, according to recent statistics there is a rising number of people who do not see enough chestnuts, or any other food for that matter, to meet their needs. And that hunger keeps nipping. 

A report by the U.S. Department of Agriculture said that an estimated 36.2 million people struggled during 2007 with “food insecurities,” as the government calls it. Included in that 36.2 million are 691,000 children. Statistically that means one of every eight Americans went hungry last year.

We all know the effect this year’s economy could have on that number.

Most Americans will be tightening their belts this year. According to a Unity Marketing survey taken during October of 1,200 affluent consumers (with an average income of $210,000), over 50 percent reported that they were cutting back on spending by shopping less often and by going to outlets malls or shopping during sales.

The problem is that consumers who spend less will also tend to donate less, and it is times like these that charities need those contributions more than ever. Re-assessing priorities and cutting back on those goods and services that are unnecessary could do people good, but cutting back on charity donations will do no one good.

It’s important to remember that charities rely heavily on the small donations of the everyday person, not just the huge donations given by wealthy Americans. Such flashy gifts accounted for only 1.3 percent of the overall donations in 2006, according to Giving USA, while donations from individuals accounted for about 75 percent. Although small donations don’t get much media attention, they are the ones that really count.

That’s what this season is about. It’s about the power of giving and how students here choose to exercise that power. Even though the economy has hit hard this year, it has not crippled the average family’s power to help the ones who need it.

BY THE NUMBERS

35.9 million people are living below the poverty line.

12.9 million of these people are children

100 billion pounds of food are wasted in the U.S. each year

33 million Americans live in a household with a shortage of food.

3.5% of American households experience hunger

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