Why are we letting Americans go hungry?

In the richest nation on Earth, tens of millions of Americans are struggling to find enough to eat. According to the new “Hunger in America” report from the organization Feeding America, 46.5 million people in our country rely on food assistance programs to survive. As if that isn't bad enough, one out of five families who need assistance include a current or former member of the military, and forty percent of these households include a child. Despite these staggering statistics, food assistance programs like SNAP have been hit with massive cuts in recent years, and many people aren't even told that they're eligible for benefits.

Many people are turning to food charities to find enough to eat, but those programs are stretched far beyond their capabilities. In fact, these charities are so over-extended, that one in six is worried that they may have to shut down. The “Hunger in America” report shows exactly how dire the situation is in our nation. The authors explain that more than 50 percent of families who use food assistance are forced to eat expired food, about 35 percent have had to sell belongings to eat, and almost 80 percent have to buy cheap, unhealthy food just to survive.

Those who do qualify for nutrition assistance are not fairing much better. One in five households who receive food stamps say that they use their entire monthly benefit with a week. Republicans in Congress have no trouble finding the money for bombs and tax cuts and corporate welfare, but they can't seem to find an extra cent to feed hungry Americans.

This is not how the wealthiest nation on earth should treat its citizens. It's time to stand up for our fellow Americans. Before Congress authorizes one more dollar for war profiteers or oil companies, we must demand that they make sure every American has enough to eat.


mathboy's picture
mathboy 9 years 42 weeks ago

The first ten amendments were done all at once, so constitute only one act of amending. The other 17 amendments were all done separately, so the U.S. Constitution has actually been amended only 18 times.

mathboy's picture
mathboy 9 years 42 weeks ago

Perhaps we should refrain from teaching children religion before age 7.

leighmf's picture
leighmf 9 years 42 weeks ago

Proverbs: The ways of the greedy steal life from the true owners of gain.

Maggie72's picture
Maggie72 9 years 42 weeks ago

To my way of thinking, a society should be judged not on the size and power of its military might , but on how well it cares for its poor, it's children, the disabled and the most vulnerable. From all accounts, to maintain the safety nets for these groups, the US in 2014, is a dismal failure. Both political parties are responsible, the Democrats being the less of two evils. There is a war being waged on the poor and the GOP is leading the pack. They have no shame, these overpaid, overfed hypocrites in the US Congress who, while they are cutting services from those less fortunate, are living high off the very government they wish to shrink.

JapanMath's picture
JapanMath 9 years 42 weeks ago

Maybe millions of people are struggling to get enough to eat because they are being trampled by hundreds of special interest groups--each trying to get what they want. The problem is made worse by employers who are brushing off job seekers with chldren. Employers are increasingly looking for people without children, who can work all kinds of hours, have a reduced health insurance cost, and don't have to leave work for childcare emergencies.

SHFabian's picture
SHFabian 9 years 42 weeks ago

An entire generation grew up during a long period of "poor bashing" by politicians and media. Middle classers today are clueless about the causes of poverty and the consequences of years of unrelieved poverty. We know that the US shipped out a huge chunk of our working class jobs since the 1980s, then ended welfare for the jobless poor in the 1990s. We know that not everyone can work due to health or circumstances. Yet people can't seem to grasp how this could cause a poverty crisis, much less what to do about it. It's great to call for job creation -- been doing it for over 30 yrs now, and it remains as popular as ever. But until those jobs come along...? You can't buy a loaf of bread with promises of eventual jobs. Tragically, the media marketed to liberals today have been focused on middle class consumers and campaign donors, choosing not to have a legitimate discussion about US poverty.

SHFabian's picture
SHFabian 9 years 42 weeks ago

We now have a huge surplus of people who are desperate for any job at any wage; we no longer have anything to fall back on. Because of this, employers are able to call all the shots. They can be as picky as they want, and still be assured of finding adequate employees.

SHFabian's picture
SHFabian 9 years 42 weeks ago

What safety net? We ended aid for the jobless poor back in 1996. TANF is a short-term job program exclusively for those with minor children. Bill Clinton had cut aid to the disabled as well. (President Obama reversed Clinton's policies against the disabled.) Food stamps are for the elderly, disabled and working poor; benefit levels are determined by one's total income. This generation got very tough on the poor. In fact, the overall life expectancy of US poor has already fallen by over 5 yrs just since the 1990s.

SHFabian's picture
SHFabian 9 years 42 weeks ago

It's not religion that causes harm. The corruption and exploitation of religion, mainly for political purposes, is what is so toxic.

SHFabian's picture
SHFabian 9 years 42 weeks ago

A very BIG "thank you" to Thom Hartmann.

Aliceinwonderland's picture
Aliceinwonderland 9 years 42 weeks ago

Fabian- regarding your point about religion not being harmful beyond its corruption and exploitation for political purposes, I beg to differ. Most religions are misogynist by design and THAT is harmful in itself. Ditto the hostility against gays exhibited by most religions as well. All these religiously endorsed forms of bigotry exist independently of politics or political exploitation. Political exploitation makes the problem worse, is all. - AIW

Palindromedary's picture
Palindromedary 9 years 42 weeks ago
Quote Hartmann:The authors explain that more than 50 percent of families who use food assistance are forced to eat expired food...
Heck, I eat expired food sometimes...never one to let food go to waste. I believe that there usually nothing wrong with most expired food if the container has not been breached and if the food smells and tastes ok. I have cans or jars of food that are sometimes years out of date and I still eat them if they don't look or smell or taste bad. Crackers (or anything just wrapped in plastic), however, tend to smell and taste bad after they get old. I don't eat those.

I noticed that even the cats that I feed, they're not really my cats just some strays that started hanging around (because I fed them), get finicky when I feed them food they like to eat...the expensive kind...and then will turn up their nose at the cheaper dry cat food.

Although, I did find 1/2 inch long meal worms in one dish one time. I've been trying to figure out where they came from...and then a search on the internet told me that a lot of people have been having this problem...they believe that the cat food came from the store with the meal worm eggs already in the food...later hatching in the dish when I mix in the moist cat food with the dry cat food.

I've heard that some people have actually resorted to eating cat or dog food. Never tried it, myself.

2950-10K's picture
2950-10K 9 years 42 weeks ago

Regarding hunger in our country, Thom says, "this is not the way the wealthiest nation on earth should treat its citizens." We may be the wealthiest nation, but I think the latest stat shows our Middle Class has dropped to 27th amongst the wealthiest nations. So obviously our nation's wealth continues to be bogarted by the few who have enough to purchase our government and media for their exclusive use. While Fascism is very profitable for the few, the many go hungry and jobless.

Time to return to pre Reagan tax rates. The problem of hunger is related to the biggest lie ever told....trickle down economics. It's why we have austerity Teabag politics and it's why the sequestration happened. The automatic cuts include food.

So the Kochs will someday be in the cemetery with 90 billion left behind to be grabbed up by a new set of scoundrels with arbitrary power. It's so god damn medieval, actually it's god damn imbecilic............ That we let it happen!

Elioflight's picture
Elioflight 9 years 42 weeks ago

Wow, I cannot believe anyone hasn't mentioned the ever-growing cost of going to the market to buy food. Even for those of us with moderate means, a trip to the market becomes even more and more depressing and expensive. Prices jump dollars not pennies and we find that even we do without the things we did before, which means someone somewhere could lose his/her job, but the CEO sure won't suffer. The packages are smaller or contain less product for the same or more money. Coupons, which my husband and I have used all of our lives together, aren't very good and they expire quicker than you can cut them out or you have to buy 3 of something at $3.00 a piece to get $1.00 off, so we stopped using them and we now shop at Aldi where our dollars go a little farther.

Even our electric bill suddenly doubled while our usage did not and this is while the company was supposedly denied a rate hike by the regulating body the PUCO.

We're ALL being squeezed--as 2950-10K says, why are we letting this happen? Do children have to die from hunger before we take to the streets?

PaulHosse's picture
PaulHosse 9 years 42 weeks ago

We spend billions on weapon systems and more billions on foreign aid, and yet we have people going hungry in this this country. That's simply wrong by any measure. We should always take care of ourselves first and foremost as any nation, or even any family would. It's common sense.

We need to provide for our own. Not just in terms of food, but in terms of housing and especially in terms of jobs. We need to revamp our educational system to improve the quality of education students come out with. We've dumbed down schools to the point where newly minted graduates can't compete with their global counterparts. We need to stress the trades as muh as we stress higher education; we need plumbers as much as we need programmers and carpenters as much as gamers.

If we cannot be secure at home, we cannot be secure overseas.

RichardofJeffersonCity's picture
RichardofJeffer... 9 years 42 weeks ago

Indifference and greed are the driving force behind hunger in the US and around the world. I will stick to the situation in the US because I’m a US citizen and familiar with its domestic policies. Indifference by the political class to the hunger situation in the US can easily explained by political and economic influence of the poor, if the politician doesn’t feel there is a benefit in trying to stop or prevent hunger in American that injustice will go without any significant political advocacy. However, economic influence is a huge motivation factor in most if not all political decisions. According to Page and Gilens’s, two University Professors who have done research on political influence in American, have come to the conclusion that the poor have zero effect on public policy. Their research is serious and extensive leaving little doubt that their conclusion is a political reality in the US.

So, the wealthiest Americans have the most political influence on domestic policy in the US. This would lead to the conclusion that the wealthiest Americans have no concern about the poor in the United States and if we go by the research this is reflected in the public policy toward the poor in the US. The legislative, executive and judicial system have been regressive in their action toward the underprivileged in a bipartisan effort for the past four decades. The research also reveals it’s not just the poor with no voice in politics that the majority of Americans can expect to have little influence over political decisions. This can also be shown with polls taken on how Americans feel about government assistance towards people in poverty. Most American believe that the government; which is supposed to be an extension of the will of the people, should be doing more to help the poor. However, we clearly do not live in a functioning democracy or even a representative government with this clear democratic deficit revealed in this important research by Page and Gilens called Testing Theories of American Politics: Elites, Interest Groups and Average Citizens.

I don’t believe that this is a deliberate action taken by the political class or the upper classes. The indifference to the poor is a byproduct of a corrupt system that allows wealth and greed to dominate political decisions. The American system government is not perfect and it was never a creation of the people as a whole. It is not my contention that wealthiest have any obligation to advocate for the poor. However, the poor; which is a much larger class than the wealthiest Americans that have the most influence over the political process, have no avenue to advocate for themselves in a representative government that lacks the basic democratic principle of majority rule.

chuckle8's picture
chuckle8 9 years 42 weeks ago

RichardofJeffer -- You should read some of the details that Chicago Matt posts on this blog before you say

Quote RichardofJeffer:I don’t believe that this is a deliberate action taken by the political class or the upper classes.

The employer actions they take on the working poor seem very deliberate.

By the way, Chi Matt is a conservative.

Stella Jane's picture
Stella Jane 9 years 42 weeks ago

Feed ALL children worldwide for

ONE MILLION $$$ of each One Billion spent on WAR.


Get with the program folks !

Feed ALL children Educate ALL people to care for themselves and others

to feed themselves and others

Our RIGHT is to establish ideal human habitat; our DUTY for 7 generations. ALL kept as PUBLIC BENEFIT controlled only by real HUMANS, on GAIA our living planet.


Gather in fields: the congregation.

Plant seeds: the ceremony.

PRAY during the growing/watering.

Share WORLDWIDE: the communion.

Peace n Planting our true way of life.

99% feel the same ...... Feed ALL children Educate ALL people

Please BEE REAL -- get a hive going with somebody anywhere!

BEE ProACTIVE aka benefit the 7 generations in all you do!

PS MAKING IT HAPPEN LOCALLY in your neighborhood.

Thought this local action peace plan might be at the heart of our prayers.... we could rent church kitchens and make wonderful BREAKFAST in YOUR POCKET cookies and donated organic milk for school children. Friday night we use the kitchen again to make WHOLE GRAIN PIZZA with ten vegetables and mushrooms. Salad bar too, all organic fresh!

NO MOVIE NIGHTS -- instead there are ten tables with crafts and skills mentors sitting there to help the YOUTH. A great fisherman, a basket maker, leather worker, food preservation teacher and other useful survival skills teachers /life guides.

RichardofJeffersonCity's picture
RichardofJeffer... 9 years 42 weeks ago

My response in part was to address indifference as the key culprit in America’s unjustifiable hunger problem. I still don’t believe that there is a deliberate collective effort by the wealthiest to starve the poor. I was just trying to make the point that the democratic process is not a function of our represented government. I see the problem this way. The political class; which has a lot of crossover with the wealth interest in the US, lacks the political will to combat an easily winnable fight against hunger in the US, because their constituents concerns have no overlap with those of the poor or even the middle class. Rich people don’t go hungry so there isn’t a concern among the wealthy to use their obvious dominance of the political systems to advocate for those in poverty to ensure that all people in America should have the fundamental right to food.

However; the majority of the Americans, according to different polls, believe access to food should be a fundamental right, the problems lies in the American system of government. The government was never set up to be a functioning democracy. James Madison’s, who held great influence over the creation of the US constitution, thought that democracy was a dangerous idea and that the decisions of the country should be made by our betters (wealth interest). Madison, if you take him seriously, did come to regret his assertion that people of privilege would do right by all people and not act solely in their own self-interest. That system is still in place and even more entrenched than when Madison was envisioning the formation of limited representative government. On the rare occasion when Congress, “the People’s House”, tries to create a law with popular support that falls outside the concerns of the wealthiest Americans, there is a system of “checks and balance” (Senate, Executive and Judicial branch) that was created to ensure that will of the people (democracy) would not prevail (Plutocracy).

It is true that sometimes the majority of the population does have enough influence to effect the laws and policies of the US government and that the country is much more civilized than has been in the past, but that’s not a result of the U.S. form of government. It’s a direct result of the wealthiest Americans fearing that the population might start to think we live in a democracy and start to change our form government to reflect the democratic process. The wealthy can allow things like the New Deal to be enacted as trade-off to save the system and then use that system to dismantle popular public programs. This is played out over and over again in American history from civil rights to fundamental human rights like food and shelter.

The wealthiest have a fully realized representative government that acts in their interest but that’s because it was set up that way by a very small minority of privileged men with an agenda to keep the democratic process out of the hand of the people. This is not going directly to you point of deliberately attacking the poor but you have to understand that the consideration of the poor is not the interest of the ruling class. It might look deliberate but this is a natural product of a system that is indifferent to majority of American opinion. The will of the people has never been fully realized at any point in American history and that isn’t going to change within our current political system. I do offer an idea of changing the system through Consumer Unions and have addressed it on my blog. The idea is sound in my estimation but the volition is silent on the matter.

In short, the rich (tiny minority) in the U.S. live in a representative government and rest of the U.S. citizens live with the political decisions that are enact on the behalf of America's wealthiest citizens.

RichardofJeffersonCity's picture
RichardofJeffer... 9 years 42 weeks ago

I'm sorry.. I meant to reply to your post directly and was not pay attention when I posted on this blog.. However, I did address you post as post #19.. Thanks

basmith13f's picture
basmith13f 9 years 42 weeks ago

@Paul Hoss (comment #15). "Foreign aid" is not humanitarian aid. Very little of U.S. taxpayers' money goes to such purposes. Most "aid" is for armaments (Israel gets $3bn/year in "aid", with which they use to purchase weaponry). Other "aid" comes in the form of loans from International Monetary Fund or the World Bank. These funds go to infrastructure projects that benefit the upper classes of those countries. Or a corrupt leader simply steals them, and leaves the poor populace to pay back the loan, with interest.

chuckle8's picture
chuckle8 9 years 42 weeks ago

BASMITH13F -- (RE: #21) You forgot to mention, not only does the populace have to pay back the load, the IMF takes away jobs by applying austerity to the government e.g. it will not hurt our fire fighting capablities too much by laying off half the firemen.

chuckle8's picture
chuckle8 9 years 42 weeks ago

RicharofJeffer RE:19 -- Jefferson was a firm believer in the democratic process, even if he agreed to let only white landowners vote in some areas. That "We the People" to start the constitution is reasonably indicative of the desire for democracy. Jefferson's rant on the Marbury vs. Madison SCOTUS decision in 1803 pretty much showed his true colors on democracy. SCOTUS as Thom points out is the cause of the wealthy taking over the country. FDR let us know that the constitution can provide us a representative government. Of course, he had to make threatening moves toward SCOTUS to enable his representative agenda.

RichardofJeffersonCity's picture
RichardofJeffer... 9 years 42 weeks ago

Maybe you can’t see it, because you’re not looking at from the context of the time, but the New Deal was a result of external pressure outside of the government that forced the system to protect itself against reproach from the citizenry. Washington referred to this, along with a lot of other Founding Fathers, as a leveling spirit. The Civil Right movement of the 60’s and most popular movement in the U.S that had success was because the powers that be concede their stance to protect the system, so in return they could dismantle within using the same system that they protected against popular change. Thom on several occasion has made this point, especial with New Deal and the mood of the nation changing toward socialism or communism, however, he’s never made that connection completely. I am not advocating for either systems, I’m just making the point about the under current of the nation and that the people in power completely understood at that time.

FDR clearly went to the powers at the time and explained that their way of life was about to be directly threaten by the volition of the people. The New Deal was a brief concession by the ruling class, which was immediately attacked using the unchanged established institutions that existed to protect minority rule against leveling spirit of the majority. This 50 plus year attack on the New Deal, over time, is clearly reflected in the laws and policies that have changed, limited or completely dismantled those benefits and protection that the New Deal offered society. This has been done without consent of the people and that should be proof that we do not live in a democracy.

We do not move forward in this country by the popular method of democracy because it does not exist. We are allowed progress because our “betters” decide, either form fear of popular that might fundamentally change the limited function of representative government or that their rule by minority consensus might be directly challenged by the unbridled heard.

I personally have never taken Jefferson’s rhetoric on popular democracy seriously. However, there was a deliberate move by Jefferson’s colleagues to keep him away from the constitutional convention. His belief in the democratic process might have been the reason for that exclusion.

chuckle8's picture
chuckle8 9 years 42 weeks ago


chuckle8's picture
chuckle8 9 years 42 weeks ago

RE #24 of RichardofJeffer -- It does not seem clear to me.

Quote RichardofJeffer:FDR clearly went to the powers at the time and explained that their way of life was about to be directly threaten by the volition of the people.

It seems that if FDR explained that to the powers to be, they would not have staged a military coup. Thank God, that Smedley Butler saved us.

It seems to me that the "unbridled herd" is a synonym for demcracy. The unbridled herd was winning against the powerful minority which led to the Lewis Powell memo. If the unbridled herd was not winning the Powell memo would not have been necessary.

RichardofJeffersonCity's picture
RichardofJeffer... 9 years 42 weeks ago

It seems that if FDR explained that to the powers to be, they would not have staged a military coup. Thank God, that Smedley Butler saved us.

It seems to me that the "unbridled herd" is a synonym for demcracy. The unbridled herd was winning against the powerful minority which led to the Lewis Powell memo. If the unbridled herd was not winning the Powell memo would not have been necessary.

The Powell Memo and the Crisis of Democracy from the Tri-Lateral Commission (TLC) LOL are documents showing change in strategies in using the old system for ruling class benefit. The fact that a fascist coup was attempted, by the most elite of the ruling class, and nobody was even sentence to jail, let alone hung, should be a telling example of the power that the ruling class have over our government. Eugene Debs was sentence to prison for just speaking out against WWI. Two America’s one for the ruling class and one for the rest of us.

chuckle8's picture
chuckle8 9 years 41 weeks ago


chuckle8's picture
chuckle8 9 years 41 weeks ago

RichardofJeffer RE:#27 You are pointing out that during the history of our nation that the ruling class has had significant control over our government.

Quote RichardofJeffer:The fact that a fascist coup was attempted, by the most elite of the ruling class, and nobody was even sentence to jail, let alone hung, should be a telling example of the power that the ruling class have over our government

I agree. However, I think the amount of that control over our government has varied over time. At the time of WWI and the attempted military coup the corporatists had great control. What I am saying is I think that the policies of FDR were greatly reducing that control. He had leveled the playing to such a degree that the corporatist class was becoming very concerned. I think there is significant evidence that the policies of FDR were in no way deals made with the ruling class. The key evidence I would provide are the Wagner Act, the Glass-Steagall Act and the Investment and Securities Act of 1940.

RichardofJeffersonCity's picture
RichardofJeffer... 9 years 41 weeks ago

Time should always be a consideration of any argument. If you consider, corporate personhood, which Thom discuss in Unequal Protection, as indicator of establishment being controlled and patient in achieving their ends. Corporate Personhood was achieved over a long period time by picking away until they found the right combination of legislators, courts and controlled public. The laws and protections created during the FDR presidency was a concession made by the ruling class that could easily circle the wagon and bide their time until the population could be pacified, manipulated, divided and controlled in such a way that established powers along with new forces and tactics could return to a time that looks a lot like what’s going on in American and Europe as we live today. People in power think in much different terms than the average citizen because they understand history. A famous quote by John Quincy Adams using an educated rationale prediction, using historical observations, about time and circumstances regarding Cuba - There are laws of political as well as physical gravitation; and if an apple severed by its native tree cannot choose but fall to the ground, Cuba, forcibly disjoined from its own unnatural connection with Spain, and incapable of self-support, can gravitate only towards the North American union… This insight by John Quincy Adams, that became a reality until Castro ruined the party, is why history in American public and in most private schools is muted and bastardized, because knowing history can lead to accurate prediction of the future.

The New Deal did not fundamentally change the system and that was the point. It created a temporary setback for a ruling class and their functionaries that understand time and history. They understood a temporary gain for the public with an unchanged corrupted system was better than a fundamental change that could create a semblance of democracy, which would’ve been truly disastrous in the eyes of established power.

It seems we’ve circled this topic. You believe FDR’s New Deal was a result of the democratic process, Correct? And I believe the New Deal was a reaction by established power to concede to the public, temporarily, to ensure that the system was not fundamentally changed in any real way, which would affect their control over governing institutions.

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