We all have some preconceived notions about poverty and hunger, but how accurate are those notions? Here are four ideas many of us have about hunger, and a dose of the truth.
- Hunger-related deaths are a problem in developing nations, but not in America:
Though most of the world’s hunger-related deaths are in developing nations, there are Americans suffering and even dying from hunger and hunger-related illness. The actual stats in the U.S are about .58 of every 1000 deaths is caused by hunger. That’s way lower than places like Ethiopia, but in modern, democratic America, it’s still too many.
And hunger is about more than life and death. Children who do not get proper nutrients can face permanent physical and mental disabilities, stunted growth, and lack the immunities to fight off other things.
- SNAP (food stamps) are frequently abused, with recipients using their benefits for junk food, soda, or pet food:
In fact, SNAP benefits can only be used for approved items. The benefits are preloaded onto a card, and when the card is swiped only the value of approved purchases is charged to the card. SNAP covers milk, cheese, fruits and veggies, grains, meat and eggs, and other necessary food items. It is not good for the purchase of pet foods, soda, baby formula or diapers, or junk foods like chips and cookies.
- In America, hunger and poverty are limited to poor areas like Appalachia, the “rust belt,” and Native American Indian reservations:
While those areas may have more poor and hungry per capita, the truth is that every single county in the United States has some people living below the poverty line and fighting food insecurity. Every.Single.County. The idea that it “doesn’t happen here” is a lie we tell ourselves so that we don’t feel guilty. Know the truth. There is poverty in your county. There are people who rely on the local food bank.
- Poverty is caused by unemployment and laziness:
Yes and no. Obviously not working means not getting paid, and a period of unemployment can dig a hole that takes years to recover from. But one in four American workers brings home wages at or below the poverty line. Low-paying retail, service, and factory jobs are often not enough to make ends meet. These jobs usually don’t come with benefits, either, so an unpaid sick day can be very costly.
I hope this gives you a better understanding of the realities of poverty and hunger in America today. What surprised you?