8 MYTHS ABOUT HUNGER
MYTH 1 Abundance, not scarcity, best describes the world’s food supply. Enough
Hunger exists because wheat, rice, and other grains are produced globally to provide every human
being with 3,500 calories a day – that’s 75% more calories per person than
there is not enough food are recommended in the USDA’s Nutritional Guidelines. Hunger persists in
this country not because of a lack of food, but an absence of political will to
solve the problem.
MYTH 2 Charitable organizations – including MAZON’s nationwide partners on the
It’s better for local front lines –were not designed to feed their entire community. Instead, these
food banks, food pantries and soup kitchens were created to solve what were
charities to feed people, thought to be temporary or emergency situations, not systemic problems.
not the government. Most are open only a few days a week, and for a few hours of each day. They
are largely volunteer run, often out of basements or closets at their local
houses of worship, and they primarily distribute food that has been donated
from within their communities. They simply could never have the capacity to
feed the number of people who need help.
MYTH 3 Receiving benefits from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program
Government programs (SNAP, formerly food stamps) hardly enables anyone to live well. The
average benefit equates to roughly $1.40 per person per meal. And in most
enable lazy people to live cases, the money runs out before the month ends – typically after only three
well on society’s dime. weeks – forcing families to rely on charity to eat. Government programs like
SNAP are designed to ensure that people receive the sustenance they need
so they can contribute back to society and get off these programs. How
productive could we expect anyone to be if they haven’t eaten for days or
weeks or longer?
MYTH 4 When many people think about where people might be going hungry, they
Hunger is only a often envision a city where the disparity between those who have and
those who don’t is blatantly evident. Certainly food insecurity exists in
big city problem those cities, but every day, we at MAZON hear about the growing number
of challenges that afflict suburban, rural, and remote areas of the country.
And alleviating hunger in these areas can be much harder to do than in
the cities, because those communities often have fewer opportunities to
obtain needed resources and lack a sufficient transportation infrastructure
to support food distribution.
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MYTH 5 Many people believe that hungry people always look thin and emaciated.
You can’t be overweight However, a growing body of research shows a startling correlation
between obesity and hunger. The simple fact is this: people living in
and be food insecure. poverty cannot afford enough food, and often, what little food they can
afford is unhealthy and processed, with low nutritional value. They also
tend to have far more limited access to healthy and affordable foods in
their communities, and reduced opportunities for physical activity. It is
the convergence of all these factors that has exacerbated the obesity
epidemic among those who are, in fact, hungry.
MYTH 6 As the nation’s unemployment rate hovers at 9%, SNAP provides a vital
People on SNAP just lifeline so that people and their families can eat while they search for
work. In fact, this important and effective program is designed to expand
need to get a job and contract in relation to unemployment – in other words, for caseloads
to rise as unemployment rises and fall as the economy recovers. 40% of
households receiving SNAP benefits have at least one working person.
MYTH 7 SNAP has one of the most rigorous quality control systems of any public
SNAP is rife with waste, benefit program. States must conduct regular “quality control” reviews
of SNAP case files to ensure that benefits are accurately distributed.
fraud and abuse And ongoing improvements to regulate the program have kept fraud
and abuse to a historic low of less than 2%. The truth is that the
overwhelming majority of SNAP recipients follow the rules because they
desperately need help ensuring their family has food to eat.
MYTH 8 There is no doubt that hungry people would rather not be hungry and may
“Hunger can be a try to do everything they can to avoid it in the future. But that same hunger
also hinders their ability to take such action. Being hungry can be all-
positive motivator” consuming and distracting, which in turn decreases productivity in working
- Rep. Cynthia Davis (R-MO) adults, and negatively impacts unemployed people’s ability to get jobs. And
for children, chronic hunger has devastating effects, impacting their physical
development, and making it nearly impossible to learn. In both the short and
long term, having a substantial population of hungry people - be they adults
or children - impedes the country’s economic prosperity for everyone.