The USDA report, Household Food Security in the United States, 2004, says that 38.2 million Americans live in households that suffer directly from hunger and food insecurity, including nearly 14 million children. That figure is up from 31 million Americans in 1999.
"This is an unexpected and even stunning outcome," noted center director Dr. J. Larry Brown, a leading scholarly authority on domestic hunger. "This chronic level of hunger so long after the recession ended means that it is a man-made problem. Congress and the White House urgently need to address growing income inequality and the weakening of the safety net in order to get this epidemic under control." According to the Center on Hunger and Poverty, food insecurity increased by nearly a million households from 2003 to 2004. Rates of hunger increased in almost every single category of household during the same time, with single mothers and those living in or near poverty continuing to suffer from severely high rates of both food insecurity and hunger.
California, Texas, Arkansas, Missouri, North Carolina, New Mexico, Oklahoma and South Carolina all have food insecurity and hunger rates that are significantly higher than the national average. The lone bright spot in the nation is Oregon. Once considered to have the worst hunger in the country, Oregon has shown significant decreases in food insecurity and hunger since 1999-2001.
"With this astonishing level of food deprivation in America," Brown concluded, "we need President Bush to step up to the plate. If he now asks Congress to cut federal food programs, hunger will increase even further. We need the moral leadership to stem this crisis."