Food banks, food drives, and food stamps address immediate needs: feeding America’s hungry. Federal programs like SNAP and community organizations like Food Gatherers help the hungry survive from day to day. (Scroll down on the right to read earlier posts this week about these efforts.)
BUT—could they also be a distraction from the root causes of hunger? Don’t get me wrong. I applaud and support programs and organizations like these. Without them, many Americans—especially children—wouldn’t have enough to eat. To really alleviate hunger, however, we have to get to the underlying causes—the structural conditions that result in widespread hunger in the first place.
Food insecurity is the result, in part, of our ailing economy. Record numbers of out-of-work Americans and record numbers of food-insecure households go hand in hand. As the economy recovers, jobs are created, and more people get back to work, there’ll be more food on the table.
I wish it were that simple. For decades, we’ve seen a widening gulf between the haves and the have-nots. Many jobs in the new economy are low-paying service jobs. The productivity of American workers has risen over the years, but their real wages have not. These are just a few indications of the structural issues that would have to be addressed to get to the root causes of hunger.
All this gets us into the political arena and a deep examination of our values.How far are we willing to go to address the root causes? Giving canned goods to a food bank is easy. Structural changes is hard.
Do we have the political will to make structural changes?
Or, will be content to let federal, state and local programs address the symptoms of hunger?
Please, “Comment” below.