Friday, December 18, 2009

Hunger real. . .and for our children

Child hunger, called the 'silent epidemic,' is an increasingly complex problem
By Amy Goldstein
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, December 12, 2009

PHILADELPHIA -- Three weeks before he was elected president, Barack Obama set an audacious goal: end hunger among children in the United States by 2015.

Since his inauguration, Obama has seldom broached the subject. His aides brainstorm weekly with several agencies, but their internal conversations so far have not produced fundamentally new approaches. The president's goal could prove daunting: Childhood hunger is more complex than previously understood, new research suggests, and is unlikely to be solved simply by spending more money for food programs.

If Obama intends to erase childhood hunger, the government will need to reach even further into the rowhouse kitchen where Anajyha Wright Mitchell sometimes takes tiny portions so her mother will have more food. "I tell her to eat, eat, eat, because she is real skinny," Anajyha, 12, said of her mother, Andrea Mitchell.

Anajyha, a serious girl with two younger brothers and a mother who has lost two of her three part-time jobs, is growing up with an ebb and flow of food typical of a growing number of families. In her home, in a scuffed neighborhood called Strawberry Mansion a few miles north of the Liberty Bell, food stamps arrive but never last the month. There can be cereal but no milk. Pancake mix and butter but no eggs.

The intricacy of the problem -- and of the Obama administration's task -- plays out here, where Anajyha could have enough to eat but shortchanges herself.

Philadelphia offers a particularly vivid ground-level view of what researchers call a "silent epidemic" of hungry and undernourished youngsters. For years, local civic activists, health experts and politicians have tried some of the nation's most innovative experiments -- and learned how intractable hunger can be. Researchers here have also been at the leading edge in trying to fathom the effects of a scarcity of food.

To read entire report click here.



rcorum said...


I know at times I sound way too conservative to be posting here, but hunger is just not acceptable in this country of plenty. Our church has a well stocked pantry, but I know there is so much more that we can do. I hope people will post on this article. When a controversial topics we come out of the wood work, me included. On think that I have found that can be helpful is for a church to develop a relationship with the social worker and guidance counselor at a school. These people are on the front lines and have been very helpful to us when it comes to identifying children in the most need.

Chris said...

The problem I have with the article you referred to, is the fact that a family of 4, two adults and children age 5 and 2 had trouble buying enough food with $650/month in food stamps. Children that age simply do not eat that much. I don't think I ever spent that much for food in a month.

Anonymous said...


Where did you get $650? I do not see that anywhere in the article. While that may be the maximum, you may get considerably less depending on income. I work with people in poverty all the time and I have never seen anyone getting more than half that much.

Daniel said...

Chris, the figure you cited is near the MAXIMUM amount you could receive. In order to receive that much, you have to have ZERO income and no assets, in which case you've got a lot of other financial issues. The fact is most people with low income will receive $200-400 in SNAP for a family of four, which is incredibly reasonable.

Many states have a handy-dandy benefits calculator online. Why don't you plug in a couple of realistic scenarios and see if welfare is really that good of a deal?

Chris said...

I realize that the figure is high for food stamps and the family has other financial issues. However, food stamps cover food.
Here is the quote:

"She is bad, she knows at budgeting. In early Nov. when $650 in food stamps came.....when the food stamps run out she buys on credit from Indio's Mini Market, a few blocks away. In Oct. she ended up with a $300 tab."

Chris said...

The woman and her live in boyfriend get $650/month for food and yet the 2 year old wakes at night crying for milk which she doesn't have. I say it's time to call child protective services.

Anonymous said...

Chris, please don't let common sense interfere with this "feel good" moment.

Larry James said...

Thanks, RC. Seeing the affect daily of poverty on nutrition causes us to work hard to help families.

Anonymous said...

$650 would be such an unusually high number when it comes to food stamps, I would lay odds this was a one time thing. She may have just gotten qualified and gotten back benefits.

Either way, this one number certainly shouldn't drive all thinking about this issue. The article simply isn't detailed enough to know what it means.