Tuesday, November 17, 2009

1 in 7 Americans Affected by Food Insecurity

Ed Harrison of Credit Writedowns (via The Guardian) details a disturbing trend:

The US Department of Agriculture highlights how the United States in the last decade, despite increased aggregate wealth, slid back significantly in terms of food insecurity as measure of poverty. With everyone now focused on the unemployment situation, it bears noting that even before the downturn in the economy there had been a large surge in food insecurity nationwide.
What is food insecurity?
Food insecurity - defined by the USDA as when "food intake … was reduced and their eating patterns were disrupted at times during the year because the household lacked money and other resources for food" - afflicted 14.6% of Americans in 2008. i.e., some 50 million people were too poor to guarantee being able to put food on the table.
Only three of the worst 17 states in terms of food insecurity showed an improvement over the past decade and my guess is things have gotten a whole lot worse.

Lets realize what has changed since 2008. Back then, the percent of TOTAL people under or unemployed (i.e. U-6) was 5.5% LESS than it is now. Even then, 14.6% Americans were affected by food insecurity (that is one in less than 7 people THEN).

Back to Ed:
My interpretation of the data goes to income inequality. I see this as evidence that the last decade of growth in the U.S. has not been beneficial for poorer Americans. However, I would go further in saying that the downturn in the U.S. and rising unemployment, bankruptcy and foreclosure in the middle class has made plain that the middle class has also been left behind.
I'd go further. It hasn't only been the middle class that hasn't shared in the wealth creation... HARDLY ANYONE outside of the uber-rich have.

Source: The Guardian