37.2 Million Americans Live in Hunger
SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOAL 2: Zero Hunger
Target 2.1: By 2030, end hunger and ensure access by all people, in particular the poor and people in vulnerable situations, including infants, to safe, nutritious and sufficient food all year round.
Hunger in the US is driven by poverty. There is plenty of food and in fact 30% of the food purchased in the US by restaurants, supermarkets and households is ultimately thrown away. The reason for hunger in America is not about the availability of food, it’s about access to food. And since poverty is driven by employment, it can be said if you don’t work you don’t eat. Maybe that’s a bit harsh but it’s also true.
Hunger is broken down into two main groups:
Food insecure – households that are uncertain of having enough food because they have insufficient money or other resources for food.
Very low food security – households where normal eating patterns are disrupted, and food intake is reduced because they have insufficient money or other resources for food.
From the chart you can see how hunger follows the economy and closely matches the US poverty rate. In good times hunger goes down and in hard times it spikes up. The logic behind the above trend makes sense, as people struggle financially, they also struggle to feed themselves and their family.
How does America feed its hungry?
Feeding America (www.feedingamerica.org) lists 8 federal programs designed to address hunger for various target groups. Below are two of the best known programs.
SNAP (formally known as food stamps) provided 42 million Americans with temporary food benefits in 2017. Eligibility including work requirements is determined at the state level. In New York,15% of the population receive SNAP benefits, 55% of which are families with children. The average monthly benefit in New York for households with children is $3991.
The National School Lunch Program (NSLP) provided 30.4 million children with free or subsided lunches in 20162. The NSLP operates in public and private schools to provide meals each school day for children living in households with incomes below 130 percent of the poverty level or those receiving SNAP. The NSLP is administered through state agencies in conjunction with school authorities. Schools receive a cash reimbursement for each lunch or snack served and also may receive USDA commodity food donations for lunches.
Current programs help reduce hunger in America, but they don’t address the cause of hunger (poverty) or help feed those who cannot meet work eligibility requirements. Year after year, since 1995 approximately 4% of American households remain hungry. To meet Goal 2, the question that needs to be answered is, how can we feed 100% of America, not just the top 96%?
The above article is intended to raise awareness that the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) apply locally as much as globally and is not intended to present a solution. Solutions for SDGs are as diverse as the groups impacted, so I leave it to the reader to find their own SDG solution. Whether it’s activism, volunteering or investing, any contribution will make an impact.
For more information on this topic or impact investing contact ESGA at firstname.lastname@example.org.