Hunger, or food insecurity, is one of the most burning issues worldwide, especially in the developing countries. However, economically developed nations like the United States also face this problem, although to a lesser degree. Recent statistics shows that more than 42 million Americans live in poverty, which means they cannot afford to buy the adequate amount of food (Feeding America, 2017). Disadvantaged households with children or single parents are most at risk for hunger. It is a pressing social and healthcare problem because the lack of food forces people to engage in criminal activity or suffer silently from hunger-associated diseases (Feeding America, 2017). Food insecurity is inexcusable in the American society, especially given the amount of food wasted or thrown away every day. More efforts should be made to address this problem and make sure that people living in poverty do not face hunger and deprivation.
Poverty levels in the United States have been alarmingly high since the recession. According to the statistics, 13.5% of people currently live in poverty, and 12.7% of households are food insecure (Hunger Notes, 2016). Although recently, the levels of hunger have somewhat decreased, millions of Americans still suffer from the lack of adequate nutrition. More than six million households report having very low food security (Feeding America, 2017). Families with children are most at risk for food insecurity, so young Americans are more than anyone else vulnerable to hunger. Parents in poverty-stricken communities often struggle to provide adequate, healthy food for their children, which results in health problems and disruptive eating patterns. Economically disadvantaged seniors, ethnic and racial minorities, and residents of rural areas are also at risk for food insecurity (Feeding America, 2017).
The consequences of food insecurity are grave both for affected citizens and the society in general. Hunger leads to serious health complications developing due to the lack of nutrients and vitamins. Disadvantaged populations suffering from some illnesses often face the dilemma – to buy food or vital medicine. Either choice leads to the deterioration of health and increases the use of emergency services (Feeding America, 2017). Hunger is especially dangerous for children because they need a balanced diet to develop physically and intellectually. Finally, hunger may force some individuals to commit crimes because when see no other ways of obtaining food to feed themselves and their families.
The government, NGOs, and charities have developed different programs and initiatives to eliminate hunger. For example, the famous SNAP program has helped millions of low-income Americans obtain vital nutritional assistance (USDA, 2017). The WIC program was developed for pregnant women or mothers with infants to make sure that this vulnerable population group receives the necessary amount of food. There are also school-based programs that aim at providing free or reduced-price meals to children from disadvantaged families. NGOs and charities have also contributed to the reduction of hunger in America by raising money, involving sponsors and volunteers, providing free meals, and raising awareness about the problem of food insecurity. However, despite these immense efforts, the problem still exists and requires integrated efforts at the legislative and political level.
To summarize, one may think that the United States, as one of the most economically developed and successful countries, does not face the problem of hunger. Yet, evidence suggests that millions of citizens live in poverty and do not have money to buy food in required amounts. Children, single parents, seniors, rural residents, and minority populations are most at risk for suffering from hunger and associated diseases. Existing programs support disadvantaged households; yet, more efforts should be made to address this problem at a national level.
Feeding America. (2017). Hunger and poverty facts and statistics. Retrieved from http://www.feedingamerica.org/hunger-in-america/impact-of-hunger/hunger-and-poverty/hunger-and-poverty-fact-sheet.html
Hunger Notes. (2016). Hunger in America: 2016 United States hunger and poverty facts. Retrieved from http://www.worldhunger.org/hunger-in-america-2016-united-states-hunger-poverty-facts/
United States Department of Agriculture (UDSA). (2017). Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Retrieved from https://www.fns.usda.gov/snap/supplemental-nutrition-assistance-program-snap
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