America’s hidden hunger crisis: unveiling food insecurity realities

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“By focusing mostly on economic statistics that benefit mostly the wealthy… the nation’s political and media elites blithely overlook the hard evidence that the economy is still structurally unsound for large swaths of the public.”

JESSICA CORBETT

A U.S. anti-hunger group marked April Fools’ Day on Monday with a snarky statement suggesting that hungry Americans “can eat positive economic statistics about the soaring stock market or the growing gross domestic product.”

“Let them eat GDP reports,” Hunger Free America declared of the 44 million Americans—including 13 million children—who live in food insecure households, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

GDP is the market value of all the finished goods and services produced in a country over a certain time period. Critics have long argued against using it as the premier indicator of how a nation is doing.

“The old school way of the elites fighting hunger was to say, ‘let them eat cake,'” said Hunger Free America CEO Joel Berg. “But the more modern approach is to say, ‘let them eat a report of the nation’s growing GDP, although the report offers empty calories.'”

“By focusing mostly on economic statistics that benefit mostly the wealthy—like stock indexes—the nation’s political and media elites blithely overlook that hard evidence that the economy is still structurally unsound for large swaths of the public, and then those same elites are flummoxed as to why the public tells pollsters they are still not satisfied with the economy,” Berg explained.

“The country’s impoverished multitudes can now get all they can eat—assuming they can digest paper report pages.”

“But the good news is that, none of that matters now, because truckloads of positive economic reports are being shipped to food banks, soup kitchens, and food pantries nationwide, and the country’s impoverished multitudes can now get all they can eat—assuming they can digest paper report pages and cardboard report covers, and don’t mind a bit of poisonous ink,” he quipped.

While inflation has eased in the United States over the past two years in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, corporations have engaged in price gouging that has kept costs high for Americans, everywhere from gas pumps to grocery stores to fast food restaurants.

“It’s one thing for corporations to pass reasonable increased costs to consumers. It’s another for them to line their coffers by exploiting Americans who are just trying to get by,” the Groundwork Collaborative’s Liz Pancotti said in January, as the group released a related report. “It’s time to rein in corporate price gouging—or families will continue to pay the price.”

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high cost of low living

Data released last month by the Federal Reserve shows that the top 1% of Americans are the richest they have ever been, with a collective $44.6 trillion in wealth, a record largely driven by the stock market. President Joe Biden and some progressive Democratic lawmakers recently renewed calls for wealth taxes, but such proposals are not expected to pass the divided Congress.

Meanwhile, the federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour, and has been so since 2009. Although state policymakers have taken action to raise pay for some or all workers, national legislation to boost wages also has not been able to get through Congress.

This article originally appeared in commondreams.org

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