Monday, August 25, 2014

National Geographic: The New Face of Hunger in America

Chances are good that if you picture what hunger looks like, you don’t summon an image of someone like Christina Dreier: white, married, clothed, and housed, even a bit overweight. The image of hunger in America today differs markedly from Depression-era images of the gaunt-faced unemployed scavenging for food on urban streets. “This is not your grandmother’s hunger,” says Janet Poppendieck, a sociologist at the City University of New York. “Today more working people and their families are hungry because wages have declined.” -article in National Geographic
 Where do you go to read about hunger in the United States? The Huffington Post? Time magazine? The Christian Science Monitor? The New York Times? Yes. They all have published very good pieces about this unfortunate situation afflicting our country. But did you know that one of the most comprehensive pieces written about the changing trends of hunger here at home was recently published in National Geographic?  It makes total sense. The magazine is not just about geography, culture and anthropology. Sociology and politics are also a big part of its coverage. And hunger in the U.S. is about sociology and public policy. 

We have  linked to other hunger-related pieces in National Geographic, including an article on how Lake Victoria had become clogged with water hyacinths, had severely hampered fishing for local villagers. National Geographic has put together more comprehensive pieces on global hunger, including a comprehensive piece entitled Feeding the World.

National Geographic's latest attempt to look at hunger, via a piece, entitled "The New Face of Hunger," addresses hunger in the United States, specifically the changing demographics of hunger in our country. The study contains very valuable pieces of information, such as a map of the United States illustrating levels of participation in the Supplemental Nutrtion Assistance Program (SNAP), and a video with stories of the newly hungry. Hunger is moving to the suburbs, which we wrote  in a three-part series in July of 2013. (Part 1 covered the book Confronting Suburban Poverty in America, Part 2 looked at the Urban Institute's Mapping Tool, and Part 3 examined hunger in Rio Rancho, N.M.)

"As the face of hunger has changed, so has its address. The town of Spring, Texas, is where ranchland meets Houston’s sprawl, a suburb of curving streets and shade trees and privacy fences. The suburbs are the home of the American dream, but they are also a place where poverty is on the rise. As urban housing has gotten more expensive, the working poor have been pushed out. Today hunger in the suburbs is growing faster than in cities, having more than doubled since 2007."

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