Hunger in US at 14 Year High

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tzvibish
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Re: Hunger in US at 14 Year High

Postby tzvibish » Wed Nov 18, 2009 2:16 am UTC

There's another aspect here that people are missing.

Families.

Children are friggin' expensive. I know. I has one. My parents had 6. It's very easy to feed yourself on a tight budget, assuming you have some discipline and broad taste. Put kids into the equation, and life suddenly becomes a whole lot more restrictive. From the beginning, if you (or your wife, dependeing on your situation) are not breastfeeding, formula is exorbitantly priced. If you start on the name brands (enfamil, similac), some babies will get attached to that formula and not go to target or wal-mart generics (mine did, thanks lord). After formula, things get a little easier, baby food is cheap, and you can make it yourself. But once they start eating real food, whatever it costs to feed you, it costs to feed them. And being children, you want to feed them better than you likely set your own nutrition standards. Make that more than one kid, and you've made the food equation much more complex.

Add in to the mix the fact that children take up your time, giving you less flexibility in what you can cook, and that their tastes are generally more restrictive than that of adults, and you've got some serious budget challenges when it comes to food. It was drilled into my head for a long time by my parents to not even consider marriage/family unless I knew I was going to be able to support myself financially. (The twisted irony is that less than a year after I got married, I was laid off from my very decent job on the day my wife was due to have our child. G-d was in a sarcastic mood that day).

The world would be a much less hungry place with some basic budget class requirements in college and/or high school. That's my solution.

If you are having problems feeding yourself (no kids), I can promise you that you can find a way to save some money elsewhere to figure it out. The only situation I can think of where a single person wouldn't have the means to feed himself(or herself) is if they had a serious disability that barred them from working (and therefore are eligible for social welfare services) or they are spending too much in one area when they should be saving (too much rent, cable tv, internet, other recreation).
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Re: Hunger in US at 14 Year High

Postby cerbie » Wed Nov 18, 2009 3:02 am UTC

I don't think families are being left out, but rather, assumed to constitute a large amount of the population in question. The article in the OP specifically mentions children and families.

"James Weill, the director of the food center that pioneered the report, called it a careful look at an underappreciated condition."
With sagging wages and rising costs over many years, emptier calories becoming relatively cheaper, and now a major economic correction...complete starvation may be minimal, but various forms of malnutrition won't be.

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Pre-script: In my, "I usually agree with The Reaper fully, so why read his post," thread-skimming, I missed this.
The Reaper wrote:When I don't buy random crap and things to cook with, my grocery bill for the month comes out to around 30$, and that's mainly the 4 gallons of milk (10$). The rest is noodles, rice, the occasional canned vegetables, some cheese, and some bread.
That's fairly low. However, even then, costs vary. A year ago, just coming off high oil prices, I was needing that much each week. Now, I'm somewhere around $10-15 a week, and most of that cost is onions, at $1-1.50/lb. Some items cost a good bit right up front, but those items also tend to last a long time, and be cheap per meal (beans, miso, etc.).

That being said, almost nothing makes me rage more than seeing someone with foodstamps buying the fancy ice cream and such. If I can't afford it, and I'm not on food stamps, WHY THE FUCK ARE THEY BUYING IT?
It's not the most raging bit to me (taking forever to pay multiple ways is, when other people can do it quickly), but, yeah....WTF? I don't know what counts around here, but the worst I typically see are frozen dinners and such (well, I think the worst is massive amount of the super-cheap ground beef, yet no vegetables in sight).
Last edited by cerbie on Wed Nov 18, 2009 5:21 am UTC, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Hunger in US at 14 Year High

Postby Philwelch » Wed Nov 18, 2009 3:38 am UTC

fjafjan wrote:
Goldstein wrote:Well let's be clear. Are we talking about hunger or unemployment?

Well I imagine the two are usually linked. Though it's true there is a large number of working poor.
What are the rules of food stamps? Can you get them while employed? Not famliar with the details.


It's a variable benefit based upon income.

The Reaper wrote:When I don't buy random crap and things to cook with, my grocery bill for the month comes out to around 30$, and that's mainly the 4 gallons of milk (10$). The rest is noodles, rice, the occasional canned vegetables, some cheese, and some bread.

That being said, almost nothing makes me rage more than seeing someone with foodstamps buying the fancy ice cream and such. If I can't afford it, and I'm not on food stamps, WHY THE FUCK ARE THEY BUYING IT?


You can get food stamps worth maybe five times your grocery budget, which means they can buy your grocery bill for the month ($30) plus a pint of Ben & Jerry's every day ($120) and still break even without spending their own money. Of course, with that kind of diet, you might have to get a quadruple bypass surgery just like Ben himself.
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Re: Hunger in US at 14 Year High

Postby Marbas » Wed Nov 18, 2009 3:55 am UTC

So the population in the US 307,958,000 according to the 2009 estimate.

That means more than 1% of people in the US are going hungry?

Not good for a first world country.
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Re: Hunger in US at 14 Year High

Postby Not A Llama » Wed Nov 18, 2009 4:04 am UTC

I think the system is pretty much broken in a lot of the US. A large part of building food security is education for the marginalized, which seems to be what is missing in many cases. yes, people really do need it spelled out for them about how $10 worth of lentils and brown rice really will get them further through the month than 10 items from the dollar menu. There are a multitude of ways of going about this, but they all cost money (even a teensy bit) Good success has been had here in Canada with community kitchens and good food boxes (i think this is an Angel ministry box in the US)

Frozen veggies are cheap and healthy, so are a much better alternative when fresh foods are not in season. Farmers market programs for low-income groups should be expanded, WIC has a coupon program in some areas in the US, much like BC has one in select markets for families in Canada. Still, these are limited and have to be fought for. Often the poorer, hungry people don't even know these programs are there for the asking.

I have a houseful, and kids are definitely a force to be reckoned with in the budget. Not just the picky eaters, I had 2 kids on formula at the same time (one with allergies) Our food costs have ballooned from $100 for 2 starving students to more like $1000 for a family of 5.

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Re: Hunger in US at 14 Year High

Postby netcrusher88 » Wed Nov 18, 2009 4:52 am UTC

Marbas wrote:So the population in the US 307,958,000 according to the 2009 estimate.

That means more than 1% of people in the US are going hungry?

Not good for a first world country.

At least the same number of people can't afford proper medical attention as a matter of course and an uncounted number of the rest (the elusive underinsured) couldn't afford it with a chronic medical condition. We as a country (the richest one on the planet by GDP, in the top 10 by GDP per capita) do a shitty job taking care of the poor - and there's still a significant portion of the population (with a terrifyingly significant amount of power) that wants to dissolve what rudimentary safety net there is.

Anyway, I think one thing that's come up in this thread is education - teach people what they should buy and cook to get the best use out of what money they have. I think it's a good idea, but I wonder how it could be executed - plus the fact that, even with that knowledge, cooking takes time that some people may have difficulty making.
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Re: Hunger in US at 14 Year High

Postby Outchanter » Wed Nov 18, 2009 6:55 am UTC

The Reaper wrote:If these poor starving people are too lazy or busy to put forth the extra effort to cook, then yea.

Some of them might be homeless; it's difficult to cook without a kitchen.

Which is why community kitchens are such a good idea. High volume food purchases, large scale cooking equipment, and preferably run by people who know which ingredients are inexpensive but nutritious. It's cheap and efficient, so even if people had to pay their share or volunteer some of their time in exchange for getting food, it would cost much less and require volunteering maybe a few hours per month, compared to cooking every day on their own.

BlackSails wrote:And no, it wont be especially tasty or varied (you will be eating alot of rice and beans).

You can make beans tasty by adding, for example, curry powder - which is fairly cheap when you consider how long a packet of the stuff lasts. There are numerous delicious ethnic cuisines which are consumed by people of all classes in their countries of origin, so you really shouldn't have to be wealthy to enjoy a meal...

Although, fruit and vegetables are definitely overpriced in the USA, at least compared to South Africa. On this topic I'd like to refer everyone to the gleaning article. Maybe more farmers could be persuaded to sell produce at a reasonable price if people were prepared to accept some blemishes or harvest it themselves?

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Re: Hunger in US at 14 Year High

Postby Not A Llama » Wed Nov 18, 2009 10:14 pm UTC

Speaking as a farmer, no people really aren't willing to buy ugly produce. We even tried selling our catfaced tomatoes at 50c/lb and nobody would take them. We canned them all ourselves and they tasted great.

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Re: Hunger in US at 14 Year High

Postby natraj » Fri Nov 20, 2009 3:42 am UTC

The Reaper wrote:That being said, almost nothing makes me rage more than seeing someone with foodstamps buying the fancy ice cream and such. If I can't afford it, and I'm not on food stamps, WHY THE FUCK ARE THEY BUYING IT?


Also, maybe because being poor is occasionally kind of depressing, and once in a while it can be nice to have just a little bit of Something Nice to distract you from potential suckiness elsewhere in your life? I don't know, I think it is kind of obnoxious to act as though because someone is poor they shouldn't be allowed to occasionally actually ENJOY the food they're getting. I find it's a lot harder to motivate myself to do productive things if life is entirely spartan monotony.
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Re: Hunger in US at 14 Year High

Postby Chen » Fri Nov 20, 2009 12:58 pm UTC

natraj wrote:
The Reaper wrote:That being said, almost nothing makes me rage more than seeing someone with foodstamps buying the fancy ice cream and such. If I can't afford it, and I'm not on food stamps, WHY THE FUCK ARE THEY BUYING IT?


Also, maybe because being poor is occasionally kind of depressing, and once in a while it can be nice to have just a little bit of Something Nice to distract you from potential suckiness elsewhere in your life? I don't know, I think it is kind of obnoxious to act as though because someone is poor they shouldn't be allowed to occasionally actually ENJOY the food they're getting. I find it's a lot harder to motivate myself to do productive things if life is entirely spartan monotony.


I cannot see a justifiable reason to buy fancy ice cream over say, regular ice cream, when you don't have sufficient money to buy food without government assistance. I can see an argument that food stamps shouldn't be used at all for luxury food. Food stamps should get you the food you need to eat a healthy meal. Ice cream and other luxuries should come out of YOUR money. If you have absolutely no money for luxuries I don't see why the government should be paying you for them.

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Re: Hunger in US at 14 Year High

Postby Philwelch » Fri Nov 20, 2009 4:00 pm UTC

Food stamps aren't meant as welfare for the people who use them, they're meant as a subsidy for the food industry.
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Re: Hunger in US at 14 Year High

Postby MrGee » Fri Nov 20, 2009 7:01 pm UTC

Philwelch wrote:Food stamps aren't meant as welfare for the people who use them, they're meant as a subsidy for the food industry.


Is there any evidence of that, ever?

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Re: Hunger in US at 14 Year High

Postby JBJ » Fri Nov 20, 2009 7:15 pm UTC

MrGee wrote:
Philwelch wrote:Food stamps aren't meant as welfare for the people who use them, they're meant as a subsidy for the food industry.


Is there any evidence of that, ever?

I take it to be an oversimplification; that by allocating tax money to a social program specifically established for purchasing food, that tax money will eventually wind up in the hands of food companies. While technically true, it ignores the intermediate step. Notably poor people not starving. It's also worth noting that the purpose of a subsidy is to assist an industry that would otherwise struggle or go under. I find it very unlikely that the food industry couldn't survive without food stamps. If I can find a reference for how much income is derived from food stamps I'll provide it, but my best guess is it's less than 5% of all revenue.

By the same overly-simplified logic, one could argue that Medicare is meant to be a subsidy for the healthcare industry. Or that the Department of Transportation is a subsidy for the automotive and oil industries. Or for that matter, any government agency is a subsidy for all industries. You know, because tax dollars go to pay the people who work in those agencies and they spend their money on things like housing, clothes, food, entertainment, etc...


Edit - Turns out my guess was pretty close.
The 2009 Federal budget for food stamps is $40.2 billion
The amount of money spent of food in the US is approximately $1 trillion. So, roughly 4%
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Re: Hunger in US at 14 Year High

Postby Philwelch » Fri Nov 20, 2009 11:37 pm UTC

American agriculture isn't at any risk of "going under", of course, but it receives tons of direct subsidies as well as indirect subsidies through food stamps. Incidentally, the Medicare drug benefit passed under the Bush administration was widely criticized as a subsidy for the pharmaceutical industry. And I'm sure the oil industry would be the first to complain if the DoT reduced spending on interstate freeways in favor of, for instance, interstate rail systems. Figuring out which industry the war in Iraq was a subsidy for is left as an exercise for the reader.
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Re: Hunger in US at 14 Year High

Postby kiklion » Sat Nov 21, 2009 7:53 am UTC

natraj wrote:
The Reaper wrote:That being said, almost nothing makes me rage more than seeing someone with foodstamps buying the fancy ice cream and such. If I can't afford it, and I'm not on food stamps, WHY THE FUCK ARE THEY BUYING IT?


Also, maybe because being poor is occasionally kind of depressing, and once in a while it can be nice to have just a little bit of Something Nice to distract you from potential suckiness elsewhere in your life? I don't know, I think it is kind of obnoxious to act as though because someone is poor they shouldn't be allowed to occasionally actually ENJOY the food they're getting. I find it's a lot harder to motivate myself to do productive things if life is entirely spartan monotony.


If you need to spend money to feel happy, you will always be unhappy. Whether your cleaning bloody tampons out of the girls bathroom that have caked and stuck to the ceiling, or getting the 6th stroller down because the last 5 were in boxes that weren't in pristine condition, or re-cooking a medium rare steak because it had a little red in it when its 1:30 and you already closed 30 minutes ago, you need to find enjoyment in your job. Being healthy is free, it costs nothing but time to run or lift. Local library is free.

I'm really just fed up with people I see complaining about cash while going out for drinks, smoking, telling me how they've seen every episode of the hills... Some people may be in a situation where they can't get a job, where they cannot afford the necessities of life, where they are young enough to not be a victim of their own decisions. I guess the issue is do you help those who need it while giving hand outs to those who are lazy? Or do you chalk them up to fate.

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Re: Hunger in US at 14 Year High

Postby netcrusher88 » Sat Nov 21, 2009 8:26 am UTC

You put up the safety net for everyone, and if they don't get back up from it - whether because they can't or because they want to pretend it's a hammock, and it's damn near impossible to tell which is true in many cases - you give them the benefit of the doubt. Regardless of what opponents of welfare seem to believe, most people don't much like living off of what they feel are handouts and will do everything they can to get back on their feet as soon as they are capable of it. But even that fact aside, it's better to take care of a few people who don't work for it than to screw the majority who simply fall through the cracks and just need a hand up - especially in a country where the system is so broken that for the crime of being injured bu no fault of yours you could be one of those.
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