Worldwide, more than 925 million people go hungry every day. I can’t even imagine that number.

Looking for a theme to write about this week, my mind wandered around my home, my neighborhood, my city, state and my country, and alrededor del mundo. I came to the conclusion that I have a lot to be thankful for. I’m sure you have heard this theme before, but the following comes from the heart.

I’m thankful for some simple but complex things in life. I know that’s like an oxymoron, but that’s how I feel. First, I thank God for being born in this country (simple). I often think of complex things – what it would be like being a woman in Afghanistan, Iraq or some other country experiencing natural disasters with no good economic outlook. What would it be like not to able to send your children to school, not provide food on the table, clothing, simple hygiene or a warm bed to sleep in?

Worldwide, more than 925 million people go hungry every day. I can’t even imagine that number.

Here at home, I find it very disturbing that in the wealthiest country in the world, there is hunger. The U.S. Department of Agriculture reported that there are 49 million people – 32 million adults and 16 million children – living in food insecurity households. Black and Hispanic (25 percent and 26 percent, respectively) households experience lack of food at a far higher rate than the national average.

Poverty is the No. 1 predictor of food insecurity, which is defined by the U.S. Department of Agriculture as access by all people at all time to enough food for an active, healthy life.



Hunger in the U.S.

Thankfully hunger in the United States is less severe than around the world. This is because we have state and federal nutrition programs that help provide a safety-net for many low-income families. In Missouri, about $1.1 billion annually is contributed to these programs. According to a new study, Missouri Hunger Atlas, about 76 percent of students in Jackson County are eligible for the free and reduced lunch program. In the Independence School District, it’s about 65 percent.

“This is a pioneering study because, for the first time, we have charted hunger in every Missouri county and St. Louis city,” said Matt Foulkes, co-author and assistant professor of geography in the University of Missouri College of Arts and Science. “With the help of state agencies, the atlas documents 16 different measures of need and 12 different measures of program success in reaching people eligible for services.” (More about this interesting study can be found at http://missourifamilies.org).

This past week was National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week, sponsored locally by the Independence Hungry and Homeless Coalition. The coalition suggested that we try to live on $3 per day for food or $1 a meal, similar to those who live on a food stamp budget. And remember in other parts of the world $3 a day would be a luxury for food.

Where am I going with these statistics? I’m not sure; I’m not a statistician or a politician. But it appears to me that a healthy life is the most basic of human needs. I see food insecure households on the rise due to unemployment, which is hovering around 9 percent. With all the economic plenty we have in this country, and access to public and private programs, why are we not reaching more low-income people who are at great risk?

Perhaps we can’t solve all these problems, but we can take a look in our backyards. Give to your local food pantry, your church and civic groups. And remember during this holiday season, those of us who “have” need to take care of those who don’t.

So around your Thanksgiving table be sure to give thanks for what you have – and share.