Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Newsweek examines food and classism in America

Posted By on Wed, Nov 24, 2010 at 9:00 AM

The current issue of Newsweek has an excellent essay on the way food has become another expression of the rapidly growing classism in America. The poor eat McDonald's to fill their bellies for little money, while monied foodies agonize over organic, local and sustainable dining options. Can the divide be broached?

Here are some of the disturbing statistics in Lisa Miller's story:

According to data released last week by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 17 percent of Americans—more than 50 million people—live in households that are “food insecure,” a term that means a family sometimes runs out of money to buy food, or it sometimes runs out of food before it can get more money. Food insecurity is especially high in households headed by a single mother. It is most severe in the South, and in big cities. In New York City, 1.4 million people are food insecure, and 257,000 of them live near me, in Brooklyn. Food insecurity is linked, of course, to other economic measures like housing and employment, so it surprised no one that the biggest surge in food insecurity since the agency established the measure in 1995 occurred between 2007 and 2008, at the start of the economic downturn. (The 2009 numbers, released last week, showed little change.) The proportion of households that qualify as “hungry”—with what the USDA calls “very low food security”—is small, about 6 percent. Reflected against the obsessive concerns of the foodies in my circle, and the glare of attention given to the plight of the poor and hungry abroad, even a fraction of starving children in America seems too high.

Atlanta is definitely among American cities that are seeing an explosion of "food insecure" families. The Atlanta Community Food Bank reports a 33 percent increase in requests for food assistance this year, according to a report on WABE FM.

Please consider making a donation to the Food Bank or volunteering via its website. Also listen to Bill Bolling's story of how he came to create the Food Bank.

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