Thirty-one million Americans at risk of hunger:
WASHINGTON, Feb 10 (AFP) - About 31 million Americans
cannot afford the food they need and are at risk of hunger, a
public advocacy group said Thursday.
The Bread for the World Institute said in a report that
3.7 million people, or 3.6 percent of the US population,
went hungry in 1998, while 10.5 million families -- 19
million adults and 12 million children -- could not always
afford to buy food.
"In the United States, hunger does not manifest itself
dramatically like famine and starvation," said institute
president David Beckman.
"The face of hunger is much different in our country
than it is overseas," he added. "But although it's easier
for us to ignore, it is still a widespread problem."
The report titled "A Program to End Hunger: Hunger
2000" said the number of people suffering from hunger
pangs could be slashed by half, to 16 million, for roughly
five billion dollars a year, or 18 dollars for each person
in the country.
"Money is not the problem," Beckman told AFP, adding
that what was needed was the political will to move
through Congress a bill extending food stamps to
more hungry people and raising the minimum wage
one dollar over the next two years.
The report, which extensively cites Agriculture
Department data, stresses that poverty persists
in the United States despite the strong economy
and very low unemployment -- four percent, a
The institute also addresses poverty around the
world, saying that hunger and disease have
claimed some 400 million lives in the past
50 years -- three times the number of people
killed in wars in all of the 20th century.
However, things have gotten better, the report
adds: now one in five people in the world goes
hungry compared to one in three 25 years ago.
In addition to international aid, "one of the best
ways to provide food security in the developing
world is to assist small-scale farmers to become
more productive" and provide them a better
education, said Al-Sultan, president of the
International Fund for Agricultural Development,
which also contributed to the report.