Hunger is nothing new to neither America nor Virginia. A hungry person does not just have to be characterized as a homeless, famished person living in a cardboard box, they could be a person who has a job and a home but do not make enough each paycheck and they are constantly worrying whether they should use their money to pay for a meal or use it to get their much needed medication. A small town in Virginia that most Longwood University students will call “home” for about four years, is only 7 square miles and houses 8,216 residents. This town is called Farmville and is home to an organization names Farmville Area Community Emergency Services, or FACES, which is ranked third in all of Central Virginia in the amount of food they distribute to residents that cannot afford groceries to feed themselves or their families. Without this non-profit organization, Farmville would have a lot of starving residents because they serve about 482 families per week. Even though FACES dispenses roughly 12,700 pounds of food per week, the organization is always in constant need for more because they can never have enough.
If the United States is the wealthiest country in the world, why is hunger such a big problem? There is no scarcity in the amount of food available, we have plenty of highways and trucks to move this food daily, and the shelves in the grocery stores have plenty of stock, but none of this matters if a person does not have the money in their wallet or bank account to buy this food. Hunger became a big issue in America around the 1960s and FACES has been in operation since 1981. This can be caused by disruptions in the food supply from severe weather, war, or even plagues. National nutrition programs such as the National School Lunch Program; the Food Stamp Program; the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Woman, Infants, and Children (WIC); and many others have been in place for many decades but still seem to have little impact on controlling this issue.
One of the main stakeholders in the issue of hunger is a child. Children can be affected by hunger as early as in the womb if the mother does not get proper nutrition, causing the baby to suffer from several health problems starting from birth. It can also negatively impact a child’s education and ability to learn. Adults are also affected by hunger, forcing them to choose between paying for food or their other basic needs such as medical bills, utilities, and rent or mortgage. A lot of adults will also choose to go hungry just so their children or other family members will not have to go hungry. Many national and local organizations such as Feeding America, No Kid Hungry, FACES, and Meals On Wheels, are affected by hunger because their main goal is to fight the problem and as the rates increase these organizations are having to do more with fewer resources. Lastly, the national government is a big stakeholder as well. As we have seen during this past week, the government will shut down if no decision can be made on how much money is spent, causing some of the national nutrition programs to be shut down as well, such as WIC. The national government spends roughly $167.5 billion on the hunger and the nutrition programs it has in place. This may only be a small fraction of the federal spending budget for America, but if the amount of people that need assistance keeps increasing then this number will as well and possibly result in another government shutdown.
Some U.S. citizens argue to cut federal spending towards hunger and the nutrition programs so that money can be used towards other areas of national government spending. This has already become evident with the many bills and laws passed that significantly reduce the amount these programs receive but none have been successful in cutting all federal government spending. Other citizens argue that federal funding towards hunger and nutrition programs needs to be increased because cutting the money will just create larger problems. The citizens fighting for more or equal amount of funding will benefit from this proposal.
Decreasing or completely cutting federal spending on the national nutrition programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Woman, Infants, and Children (WIC), the National School Lunch Program, and the Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP), will only create an even bigger problem the United States of America has with hungry and starving citizens. By cutting the government funding, they will not just be stopping the money sent all over America to help citizens in need of food, they will also be ending the lives of many citizens since food is one of main essentials needed to live. Cutting federal spending may help our economy and provide the national government with more money to use elsewhere, but without food, America will have a dramatic increase in death rate from the current 8.39 deaths per 1,000 population, which compared to the world is 88th (CIA, “The World Factbook”). The whole situation will become a downward spiral because malnutrition will cause the human body to slowly shut down and not perform correctly, which will lead to citizens not being capable to holding a job, in turn causing the unemployment rate in America to skyrocket from the current 8.1%, which is ranked 95th compared to the world (CIA, “The World Factbook”). This downward spiral will only cause even more harm to the U.S. economy and government, and that spiral will be a difficult one to turnaround just like the spiral we are trying to reverse with the economy. Some may not see America as having a problem with hunger because it does not have the same “swollen bellies and wide, pleading eyes” that we associate with hunger (“Revealing Hidden Hunger” p.10). Klein et al. hypothesize, “perhaps this misconception is why food insecurity, define as the lack of access to enough food to fully meet basic nutritional needs at all times because of lack of resources, can so easily and often go unrecognized in the United States” (10). By fully eliminated or even just decreasing the federal funds to nutritional programs and hunger organizations, Farmville, VA will be significantly impacted. The residents of Farmville will have to depend on the very few churches, businesses, and clubs in the area for food support if funding is cut because FACES and Meals On Wheels would not be able to stay open. As it is, FACES distributes “over 600 10-lb. bags of food each Saturday” or about “three tons of food a week” and is still in need of a lot more food (Shear, 2012). The cause behind all of this is poverty, and Farmville’s poverty level, 34.6%, is over triple the level for Virginia, 10.7% (“Farmville”). In order to help the poverty level in Farmville and even the United States, more jobs need to become available and those seeking assistance from the government or organizations such as FACES should not be permitted to solely rely on the services.
“CIA – The World Factbook.” The World Factbook — North America: United States. N.p., n.d. Web. 1, Oct. 2013.
“Farmville (town), Virginia QuickFacts from the US Census Bureau.” Farmville QuickFacts from the US Census Bureau. N.p., n.d. Web. 4, Oct. 2013. <http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/51/5127440.htm>.
Klein, Melissa D., et al. “Revealing Hidden Hunger How To Screen And Intervene.” Contemporary Pediatrics 30.2 (2013): 10-20.
Shear, Bill. “FACES Seeks Continued Contributions.” The Farmville Herald. 11, Dec. 2012. Web. 3, Oct. 2013.