• PROOF:
  • July 23, 2014

Amy Toensing on Hunger in America: Iowa’s Breadbasket

I recently interviewed three photographers who covered hunger in America for the feature “The New Face of Hunger” in the August issue of National Geographic magazine. They explored what it looks like for individuals and families to be food insecure in urban, suburban, and rural areas of our country.

Amy Toensing traveled to Osage, Iowa, to photograph people who are classified as “food insecure”—meaning they need assistance, either from government programs and/or food banks to get the food they need. Toensing talks about some of her experiences in the featured video and the conversation below.

Picture of a young girl holding a plate of food
Kristin Hahn and her grandmother, Janet Groven, visit a weekly soup kitchen in Charles City, Iowa.

COBURN DUKEHART: You recently got back from Iowa as part of an assignment on Hunger in America. Can you tell me why you went there?

AMY TOENSING: We picked Iowa because the state ranks as one of the highest recipients of farm subsidies, and yet has a large number of families who are “food insecure.” We thought it was an interesting irony that this was the breadbasket of America, and yet they still have people going hungry and grappling with food security issues there.

COBURN: So what did you find in Iowa? What was your experience photographing hunger there?

AMY: Well, hunger in America looks really different than what anybody thinks of when they think of hunger. It actually looks like somebody with an unhealthy diet—and sometimes it looks like obesity. It’s often families with one working adult who is paid low wages and they can’t afford healthy food. They end up having to survive off of emergency food from pantries, and that food tends to be the unhealthiest food so the family has a lot of health issues. It’s processed. It’s canned. It’s not fresh vegetables, not fresh fruits. So what it actually looks like is not, I think, what a lot of us think of hunger looking like. It’s a major health crisis in the United States right now.

Picture of people standing in line to receive food at a food pantry
Members of the community get food at the Jordan River Food Pantry in Charles City, Iowa.

COBURN: So it’s more of a nutrition issue.

AMY: It is, yeah, and, you know, it’s interesting because the title “Hunger” doesn’t quite fit. I think we’re all being educated about what this looks like, and what the actual reality is for food insecurity in the United States.

COBURN: So tell me about some of the families you met on your assignment.

AMY: I chose to spend time with three different families, and I had the help of a gentleman named Leo Chisholm, who started the local food bank in Osage. Leo represents a very important part of this whole story, because the federal government and state governments are slowly cutting things like the food stamp program, which is now called SNAP, and they’re cutting tax-based food aid, and they’re pushing that responsibility on the private sector. So I went to Leo, and he directed me to families that he knew and was assisting through the food bank.

It’s a tricky issue to find families that are willing to let you come into their lives. Why would any of us want a reporter, photographer, writer, whomever, come into their lives and document something that can be quite shameful? It’s wrapped up in so many social issues and so many things, that it’s a really brave thing for the subjects to come forward and be open about it.

Picture of the Dreier children eating snacks outside
Christina Dreier’s daily routine includes collecting food from the local food bank in Osage, Iowa. Her three children, Cheyanne, Keagan, and Ayla, are pictured here.

COBURN: So you have a picture of a family where a group of kids are eating in the kitchen. Tell me about this family and their situation.

AMY: This is the White family. They are married, had five children between them from previous families, and the husband works a full-time job, sometimes overtime, for Winnebago. And she doesn’t work, because the numbers would not add up for her to spend the money on childcare and try to go to work. She would be at a loss, actually. So she stays at home with the younger kids.

In fact, almost half of all SNAP recipients have at least one working adult in the household. So a lot of people don’t realize that a high number of people who are getting food assistance actually are working individuals, and this family represents this.

So you can see in this picture, the mom has prepared dinner. It’s mostly pantry food, and obviously that’s a high-starch diet and it’s not going to have nutritional balance. You know, there’s no fresh vegetables in this meal.

Picture of children sitting on the floor of a kitchen eating a meal
At the home of Rebecca and Bob White in Osage, Iowa. The Whites have five children between them and rely on food stamps (SNAP) to make ends meet.

And this image to me is important, because that’s the greatest challenge of this story—what does hunger in America look like? We’re the land of plenty. You’re going to see people that have flat-screen TVs. You’re going to see people that have cars. So people look at that, and they say, “That doesn’t look like hunger. Why aren’t their ribs showing? Why aren’t their bellies bloated?”

And so on a visual communication level, I think the most successful pictures from the story are ones that reach you in a sort of visceral, metaphoric way. In this image there’s a young boy handing a toddler a knife. There’s another boy stepping on a plate of food. So it’s a more metaphoric look that there’s something just not right.

There were three photographers on this story, myself, Kitra [Cahana] and Stephanie [Sinclair,] and we all found that each of the families we photographed were living in a house of cards. You pull one card out, and everything kind of falls apart.

COBURN: I think that’s interesting to try to wrap your head around. It’s complicated.

AMY: Very complicated. This is a very complicated story.

COBURN: So tell me about this other family that you photographed and your experience with them.

AMY: This is the Reams family. Kyera and Joe have four kids, and Joe is on disability, which is representative of a large number of people who are food insecure.

If you’re food insecure in America it is a full-time job to feed yourself. If you’re on SNAP benefits, you have to fill out paperwork constantly. Every day, you have to work out how you’re going to get your food. It’s a full-time effort.

Picture of Kyera and her two sons foraging for food in the woods
Kyera and Joe Reams go out foraging for food with two of the four children, Will and Charlie, in Osage, Iowa.

So about a year ago, Kyera actually had a full breakdown trying to make this all work. [She asked herself] “How do I keep my family healthy and deal with the food pantry food?” So she got books. She went out and found the county conservationist, and she started to learn about wild edibles. She planted a huge garden in her backyard and then a second garden in her front yard, and she harvests [the food]. She cans it. And now at any given time she has three months of food.

The Reams family is classified as ‘Food Insecure’ because of their family size and income level. Joe has been diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis and cannot work and Kyera is a full-time mom. In the past year the family has taught themselves about wild edibles and they also planted a vegetable garden in their front yard and have canned much of the food they have harvested and collected.

Also, she forages. This picture is of her son holding a puffball, which is a mushroom that grows wild. There were hundreds of them in the woods. It looks like an egg, and they’re beautiful to eat, and she canned them and froze them and prepared them. She did everything you can do with a puffball.

Picture of a young boy in the woods holding a giant puffball mushroom that the family will use for food
Sam Reams holding a puffball mushroom. In the past year, the family has taught themselves about wild edibles and spent a great deal of time and energy collecting food from the land.

COBURN: And what were the kids’ reactions to this, to the foraging, to being part of it?

AMY: They loved it. They were outside. They were healthy, running around, and they were excited.

COBURN: So was there anything personally for you that was hard about shooting this story or any challenges that you faced?

AMY: You know, right now we’re living in a pretty hostile time towards poor people, and I sense a societal anger toward poverty. And personally, I find that really hard to grapple with. The backdrop of this story is that wages have remained stagnant since the 1970s, and what I witnessed when I was with these people is that they’re working full-time, and they can’t make it work.

And so when I hear the sort of resentment like: “Oh, those people are living off of the government; they should get a job,”—that’s what I really struggle with, because that’s not what I witnessed in the field. I witnessed people working hard.

 

Hear Amy Toensing speak about going outside of the comfort zone in an interview on Proof. See more of Toensing’s work on her website and follow her on Instagram.

The May issue of National Geographic magazine, kicked off an eight-month series about the future of food.

Read the feature article “The New Face of Hunger” from the August 2014 of National Geographic. See a video about the Dreier family and their struggle with food insecurity in Iowa.

There are 25 Comments. Add Yours.

  1. DEBASREE BANERJEE
    August 27, 2014

    Real hunger can be portrayed in third world nations that are bursting with population. Not going into contributing factors, which would again politicize the comment, I believe that the portrayal of hunger in America is a good way to fathom the distinction between hunger in Asia or Africa. Food Insecurity and compulsory starvation are two different issues and it’s the second one that you find in my country, i.e. India. Its not that India really doesn’t have the resources to provide square meals to everyone, but again there are a number of socio-political factors here contributing to the grossly sorry scenario. While tonnes of rice, potatoes and other vegetables rot in our cold storages, there exists an artificial demand and supply gap. As a result, something as commonly available as potatoes, have become so expensive that you have to think twice before buying a Kilogram!

  2. Leslie
    August 12, 2014

    “Thank you for your question. As a reminder to all members of our commenting community: While we encourage respectful discussion on our site, comments are subject to the National Geographic Community Rules. Any comments that violate the Terms of Service will be removed.”

    My comments were no different than some other posts that remain in this discussion. I stick by my original comments that a certain family, photographed for this article, should be ashamed of themselves for how they are treating the very food they say they struggle to obtain.

  3. Leslie
    August 9, 2014

    Why have some comments been deleted? I had a comment posted and it is now gone. No reason from NG, no email, nada.

    Can the reasoning please be explained?

    • Alexa Keefe
      August 12, 2014

      Thank you for your question. As a reminder to all members of our commenting community: While we encourage respectful discussion on our site, comments are subject to the National Geographic Community Rules. Any comments that violate the Terms of Service will be removed.

  4. J.P Pierce
    August 3, 2014

    Major thesis in original article: no time to go to store. SOlution: Plan and buy cheap food.in large quantities. Rice, beans, bread, eggs. No mention of families doing.that. They spent $8 on a single meal of chicken gizzards instead in the original article.

  5. J.P. Pierce
    August 3, 2014

    Just saw the original article in NG last night. A few points:
    (1) Sorry, but you can’t be obese and underfed. That’s political correctness gone wild. Clearly, the calories eaten by the folks in the photo could have been divided amongst more meals. Make TWO meals.out of.those 1000 calorie portions.
    (2) There is an awful chart in the original article that shows a $10 meal from a burger joint and “a $10 dinner” from a grocery store that includes a half gallon of milk and an.entire loaf of bread. That isn’t one “dinner!” The milk and bread alone can feed several people! And that was just a fraction of the ten bucks spent.

    Our thresholds for what it means to be “hungry” or “struggling” have.changed.

  6. Aresty Amalia
    July 31, 2014

    Hi everyone. I know my comments may be a little too late, but I just wanna share my thoughts as an individual who lives in such a developing country called Indonesia.

    It is saddening for me to know that in the US, people buying foods from supermarkets are the ones that are actually quite in a crisis, and they need help for feeding their families nutritious food. However, it is actually even more saddening that in Indonesia, the trend is something that I can put it this way: “the wealthier you are, the more you’re likely to shop for foods in the supermarkets and fast food chains”. I don’t know how trends work, but all I know that we are heading to a wrong direction here. Indonesians think that shopping for foods in supermarkets means cool, means that you are wealthy enough. We never really thought about our calories intake, let alone our nutrition intake. Isn’t it saddening? In my opinion, people in my country are changing their values to more and more ‘wrong’ westernized values. I said ‘wrong’ because in my personal opinion, it isn’t right to consume such food you bought from a fast food restaurants just because it is franchised from the US. Even worse is that for the children coming from such poor (or below the poverty line, you might say) families, eating McDonald’s or KFC or Pizza Hut is what they have been wishing for. It seems that what we perceived as food secure is actually food insecure in the US. I found it rare for my friends to think thoroughly about the fact that it isn’t cool if you cannot cook your food from scratch, and it isn’t cool if you keep buying meals from those fast food franchised restaurants; and instead it is cool to educate yourself more about food, about where your food comes from, and just try to have a healthier and more nutritious diet. I am 21 years old now, and I found it hard to make my friends change their diets.

    Anyway, I just hope maybe someday National Geographic would like to make a documentary or reporting about this saddening fact related to this.

  7. Ruth Pace
    July 28, 2014

    I want to comment on the picture of the White family – even the caption in the magazine admits there’s a problem -”dinner is a haphazard affair.” While Mrs. White is whining about her problems feeding her kids – she’s on a cell phone.
    I see one lazy woman/mother who has no clue as to what she is doing.
    I see one child wearing a Halloween mask – but I see no kitchen table or chairs.
    um, even a plastic resin set is not expensive. Then the children would not have to eat off the floor.
    This woman is complaining about food – yet the child in the mask is STEPPING on his food. There is food spilled on the floor. – all that is not wasted.
    The other boy sitting on the floor is handing an open knife – blade first – to a younger boy – and the mother is oblivious.
    Maybe this woman should invest in a table and chairs and teach her kids to sit down, have table manners and either eat their food – and not waste it – then maybe her food bill would go down.

    • Gord
      July 29, 2014

      Here I go again, and no matter how hard I try to stop myself I can’t. So my comment to Ruth would be this from your statement;

      I want to comment on the picture of the White family – even the caption in the magazine admits there’s a problem -”dinner is a haphazard affair.”

      I see all 5 kids that are or have eaten, in a kitchen that barely looks big enough to have two adults in. The plate on the floor I am betting is the youngest ones, and with no table the mess that they made on the table is the one that they make while being a “Big Boy” and showing you that they can feed themselves.

      While Mrs. White is whining about her problems feeding her kids – she’s on a cell phone.

      I see that phone too, and I also see the look on her face, one that shows a not-to-pleased look. I wonder did she just get more bad news, or did one of the worlds finest creditors phone and threaten legal action again after she has explained numerous times about their plight??
      I see one lazy woman/mother who has no clue as to what she is doing. Pretty broad statement for her kids are eating, and they seem semi normal, as normal as most kids can be at that age. If they are not running around screaming, fighting with each other.

      I see one child wearing a Halloween mask – but I see no kitchen table or chairs.

      So do I see one child wearing a Halloween mask, or maybe mask for his school play and he is rushing out the door to get his ride to go to school after he ate and take part in it?? Once again, the size of the kitchen is not conducive to having a kitchen table,6 chairs, if there was one then where they put it?

      um, even a plastic resin set is not expensive.

      Tot Tutors Kids’ Table and 4-Chair Set, Plastic 95.69 Canadian off Amazon, Cosco Kid’s 5-piece Colored Folding Chair and Table Set 102.38. Canadian, now I am not sure how much that is in American funds but that isn’t cheap. Then throw in trying to find a used set, that is in good enough shape to even use.

      Then the children would not have to eat off the floor.
      This woman is complaining about food – yet the child in the mask is STEPPING on his food. There is food spilled on the floor. – all that is not wasted. See above statements regarding the youngest one, and the boy in the mask.

      The other boy sitting on the floor is handing an open knife – blade first – to a younger boy – and the mother is oblivious.

      Once again you see a still picture of this shot, and yet, did the next picture show the little guy sitting back down and trying to cut his own food. Do you think that the look on the possibly the oldest brothers (Half, Step, or true brother) would purposely hurt his baby sibling.

      Maybe this woman should invest in a table and chairs and teach her kids to sit down, have table manners and either eat their food – and not waste it – then maybe her food bill would go down.

      Maybe, just maybe, people shouldn’t be so quick to judge until they know the full story, or at least stop and think through all the alternatives that could be attached. Just saying, as it has been said “Those without sin cast the first stone, or walk a mile in my boots.

  8. Louise
    July 27, 2014

    Australia is also heading in the same drection. We have always been lucky with our food and the amounts we produce. Politicians and lack of forsight are allowing our farms to be sold off to develping countries, and this has led to rising food prices which encourages and has led to fast and take away food becoming cheaper than fresh produce. People who work hard and are on the minimual wage are being left behine. My 84 year old mother always was worried when fizzy drinks became cheaper and more available than milk. People ten to choose the cheaper option out of necessity. Better education for all and especially policy makers may help to curb this situation throughout the developed world.

  9. Gord
    July 27, 2014

    What I find amazing, with everyone’s lack of comments, this being a National Geographic Site and their reputation there would be more comments, for and against this issue of poverty. It just goes to show what lengths that we have stooped to avoid this issue. Most people turn their eyes away like they are going to be turned into stone, looking at these poor souls lining up to get into soup kitchens and food banks. Yes they have soup kitchens still, least whys were I am in Ontario. There are several churches and organizations that make meals up for the “Under privileged “, one for dinners, one for suppers. the Salvation army even has a Portable Food truck that goes around to the known hang outs for this very reason, to ensure that everyone gets the bare minimum daily food intake.

    Jennifer I couldn’t agree more with you about teaching,showing the unfortunate families how to survive on next to nothing. My children learned along time ago that they would always as I have said numerous times, “We will never eat fancy, but we will eat filling!” I grew up in an age where you were taught how to survive because there was not always an abundance. I am 57, good lord willing 58 and then many more. I can cook. without sounding like a real braggart most things from nothings and make it smell and taste like it came out of a 5 Star Diner. Albeit with a lot of substitutes of the different ingredients, but with the right can of evaporated milk, some flour and elbow grease, you can have your base for mushroom soups, other “creme” based dishes. I think that in over two years I have maybe bought store bought buns for hot dogs and Hamburgers3 or 4 times. Basically I find the cheapest flour, usually in 2014 prices is about 15.00 dollars for a 45 pound bag of white flour. That then becomes my everything, desserts,main courses, filling items like homemade bread and buns,homemade pizza.

    BUT, the noticeable and truthful part is that unlike our forefathers and mothers most people can not make household edibles from scratch. Hell if they had to go through all the rations from the world wars, would we ever be in trouble. Take a good long hard look when you walk through the grocery store aisles, and what do you see? Factory/mass produced, well damn near everything, and watching some people pushing their shopping cart around is humor enough. Piled high with more pre-fab,boxed, card board tasting items that you have ever seen, microwaveable,grilleable, “Super Fast” and ready in “seconds” meals.

    So no Jennifer, unlike “YOUR” family and maybe friends, who have to learn to appreciate rice & beans, and take that to another level and if someone enters your abode about dinner time then get some from everybody’s helpings, because it is just the way you were raised. Tastes have become too jaded and commercialized. Watch TV if you have that luxury, or even the internet and you will see fast food joints, fast this and fast that, and hardly any family orientated commercials anymore. Values and traditions have changed and I for one, even though I have barely a pot to pee in or a window to throw it out, refuse to allow myself and my children to lose track of those traditions.

    Be happy with what you have, light when you flip the switch,heat when you are cold, and a roof over your head. Some food to eat and be thankful, you know why? The answer is simple, the rich are still going to be rich, so what if they loose a few million, they are still rich. The poor are use to struggling to survive, and if it gets worse will just tighten their overly tight belts now. The middle class is becoming extinct, as I said before, 20-30 years with the same company, giving them your loyalty and life, and they give you the boot.

    For those that do not believe, I will simply say this. “Give a man a fish and he will eat well today, teach a man to fish and he will eat well for a lifetime!” Pass on your experience and skills to those that seem lost, and hopefully it will help, one person at a time, pass it on, forward or however you think it will best suit them, but please pass it on. Nuff said and now I will get off my soapbox. (Another old timers saying!)

  10. Genny B
    July 27, 2014

    The saddest part of this is that I live in an area of the United States where the average salary is $98,000 for govt workers and all of the tech people. The rents here are average $1,200-$1,500 for a one bedroom in a decent area that is not crime ridden and a pleasant environment to live in peace. I am moving across the country to get a break on my housing costs for apartment rental. It is sad to see this article when these Millennials with thier thirst for granite counter tops in the kitchens of rental apartments and all of the other posh amenities apartment complexes are giving to be competitive are moving from all over the US to this area and many areas in other parts of the US are really suffering.

  11. Hannah Stewart
    July 27, 2014

    Jennifer, though I agree with some of your comments especially those having to do with people buying too much processed food, I do feel like you’re being unfair in some ways. You mentioned being able to feed your family of 3 well on $90 a week. There are many, many families who have at least one working adult yet still can’t come up with anywhere near $90/week for food. After rent, utilities, gas to get to work, etc. there simply isn’t enough money left over. (And they don’t ALL own big-screen TVs.) Living expenses continue to rise, quickly, but wages remain the same or are sometimes even lowered, as per Gord’s post. It happened to me. Solidly middle-class, same job for 23 years, company shut down. Found another job but that company declared bankruptcy and the employees took concessions. Same mortgage;about a third of my old paycheck so I work 55 hours a week just to make ends meet. Not possible to put anything into savings. 57 years old now and harder to get hired at my age. Don’t be so judgmental; at least wait until you’ve heard someone’s whole story.

  12. anemarie
    July 27, 2014

    This should NOT be happening in the USA

  13. paula
    July 25, 2014

    sadly this is true in the uk.cheaper to eat junk food,soaring rents,our welfare system paying people to breed.instead of using that money to better themselves most people keep having kids

  14. Ricardo
    July 24, 2014

    Gord, I didn’t mean people are hoarding or abusing the system, but I do see a generalized problem. People seem to have children beyond their monetary capabilities. It leads down a spiral that is very difficult to get out of.

    People should think about their lives in the long term. If you don’t have a job that you know will be there for YEARS (talking about 10-20) to come, then don’t make the commitment to have 4 or 5 children. Having children means you need to keep providing for them for 20 years, at the very least.

    The use of contraceptives is obvious here. People are not going to restrain themselves from having sexual relations, so keep doing it, but without putting your future, and the future of your significant others and dependents at risk.

  15. June Hagen
    July 24, 2014

    Hi everyone, Is it Politically Incorrect to suggest that many families need some ideas about how to use the Food Pantry items to the best advantage? What good is ten pounds of flour if you haven’t thought that you can make biscuits, muffins, pancakes or bread with it?A wonderful feeling of accomplishment can come from something you make, and the cost is so low. I really believe that it is possible to feed a familiy with the food stamps and the other items if they have recipes that are quick and tailored to the foods available. Also hints, such as ,frozen foods are as vitamin rich as fresh, and take a sandwich to work instead of buying fast food.
    These Moms want to do right by their kids and all they need is to see that it is possible.

    June Hagen

  16. Gord
    July 24, 2014

    This comment is directed in response to Ricardo, his comment and input. Not sure if you were referring to myself or someone else Ricardo, but in some ways you are right. I know of and have heard of more than one family that has had two or three generations living off Welfare/Social Assistance/OW here in Canada.

    Unfortunately, please do not tar everyone with the same brush because you feel as some have, that is all people that are not earning enough are humping like bunnies in their spare time. They “LOVE” being poor watching their children starve and they themselves go without, just so that they can have more sex??? There are individuals in all situations that will constantly abuse the system, and start doing math, saying,’Well if I get x number of dollars for one child, I will get more for two,three etc. The males that help “procreate” these bonuses, usually are only thinking about one thing, sorry two things. They are thinking,”Hey I get to have sex tonight!” Or that one night stand, no responsibility, no hassles, they aren’t going to get pregnant.

    When most who have children are hard working, responsible individuals that have a good paying job(s), mortgage, nice house in the burbs or country. Then Mr.Greed arrives and raises his ugly head, and all his buddy’s the shareholders want more bang for their buck. So what happens, make the union, or employee’s make concessions, threaten to close the plant, and talk big while the Government gives you a “forgiveable” loan to help stay in business. Then the company closes up and moves to another Country. Kind of like what Cat Heavy Equipment did here in Canada, and then from what I hear down in Indiana as well.

    So now Joe or Jill Public are out of a job, one that they may have worked at for 20 years or more, they tap out their savings, the kids education, and if they can swing it, they mortgage the hell out of their home to keep going until that day they get a good job. Then they lose their house, might and some would say that is a big “Might” find a place they can afford to rent, 6 people in one room.

    So please reconsider contraceptives,birth control to “Stop” having kids just because you see someone now that is in dire straights, and down on their luck. Keep reading and looking Ricardo, and trust me, you will see exactly what I said, not everyone is bunny humping, free loading kid popping bum. Everyone has a story, you just have to know what it is. Not trying to get into a pissing match or start a fight/argument or anything of the sort.
    There is an old saying,”Don’t judge a book by its cover.” Appearances are very much deceiving, nuff said.

  17. Ricardo
    July 24, 2014

    My question is. If you are not in a position to support 4 or 5 children, why have them? I believe this goes back to living within your means. If you are struggling and can’t afford food for the couple, why have more children? Contraceptives are cheaper than having to find work and food for another person.

  18. Benedict
    July 24, 2014

    Hi I am from Tamil Nadu and working in Kerala. two similar yet very different states. the people in Kerala are like in the US. they have plenty of everything but nutrition is not the best. Tamil Nadu is less provided for by nature , but better governance has provided for a more secure and progressive future. This article says that foraging and backyard farming are good, I totally agree. that is the best way forward, when we can get a balanced diet from our backyard. A few chicken in a coop, a couple of fruit trees and a seasonal veggie garden. I would suggest psychological refreshment for these families to start home farming and community schooling. Cheap and safe and healthy.

  19. Gord
    July 24, 2014

    I have read this article and watched many documentaries on this very subject. I am disabled and fighting the government for disability, and while you fight for your rights you must receive Social assistance. Here in Canada I believe the poverty line is around 24,000.00 a year. with all my assistance and Work Place disability check I barely made 17,000.00 and I still have a wife and two children at home.

    Twice I have had to resort to using local food banks, and though it beats starving you are given at best 3 days of rations for a family of 4. Before I was injured and started down this path my children, of which I have 4 would raid our pantry to help the food drive for the food banks when they were in Public School. You never know when you will ever need a helping hand, but if and when you do these guardian angels do what they can to help, but you are limited to one visit a month. You are required to show proof of family and need, but because you are always going to have a bad apple n the bunch, if you need help more than once you have to constantly show all information again and again. Truth be told if you have any pride and dignity when you start down this path, you certainly do not by the time you are done.

    Utilities, housing costs, take up all the major portions of your monthly income. The rest I troll the grocery store looking for discounted items and discontinued stock. I make everything from scratch, soups,stews, bread and buns, but even then the rising cost of food,fuel, and the greed of the major corporations is staggering, the C.O.L.A apparently keeps rising, but what you are given will not even buy you two cans of beans here in Canada.

    I see and listen to the politicians, and hear how they are all so worried and want to help the needy. They send millions and millions of dollars in aid to third world countries and good for them. Though they have always said Charity begins at home, take care of your own first, give up your gold plated pensions that your really do not deserve for, what, doing your job? Please if you deserve a pension, wait till you are 65, sorry now in Canada it is 67 brought in by the Federal Government and then get what we get. Take the difference and feed the children, and the poor first.

    The billions that you spent on helping the major automakers, and bailing out other major corporations, spread it around the country to every man,woman, and child that can and will qualify for it as a full fledged citizen. Then watch as that money is spent on renovations, automobiles, appliances, you want to get the economy moving then do that. Quit taxing the crap out of everyone, and giving the rich money back by hardly touching their money because of all the lawyers and such that are politicians now and have made loopholes to help those that are in the know.

    In my eyes all the men/women that died fighting to protect the rights and freedoms for all of us would roll over in their graves if they knew what and how their government was doing to their own people.

    Thank you National Geographic for doing these articles, and to all the independent documentary film companies and directors that do too. Maybe it is about time that we all worked on our conscience and realized that we are all going to end up the same. Never saw a Funeral procession with a trailer attached to the hearse, time to return to our roots.

  20. shreya
    July 24, 2014

    People in the US only need to be more aware. Preserved and canned food can only cut the hunger bt have very little nutritional value. In India majority of the population buy food from local bazaars which is picked in the mornings.But slowly packaged and canned food are coming into the market. The educated bunch however are health concious and the other sections cannot afford such items.

  21. Jennifer Estrella
    July 23, 2014

    I am from a third world country, but lived for 10 years in the States, so when people talk about US hunger, I roll my eyes. But I do feel you have hit it on the spot – people in the US (and not only the poor) are suffering from malnutrition and therefore health issues and obesity, but it is because of the acceptable diet there. In my country, the cheapest food is rice and beans, and beans are rich in iron and protein. This makes it easier to be well fed. In the US, the acceptance of bad food like fast foods, cereals, hot dogs, Kraft dinner, boxed potatoes, minute rice, and all the high fructose garbage is insane. Why do people buy these? It’s not just about being poor; people with money also eat like this. I think it’s about 1) lack of nutritional know-how; 2) lack of motivation – it takes time to cook things from scratch and people have lost the patience or desire to do this. I lived in the US for 10 years and my family ate like royalty on very little money – but we drink water (tap water – which most people don’t do) rather than soda or any other sugared drink; my husband and I made a conscious decision not to drink coffee, and we very rarely drink alcohol of any type. I did not grow up with cereal or processed food, so we had none of that and I spent about $90 per week for three people. Of course, I planned meals, cooked from scratch, and bought what was on sale. I made good food a priority. And that’s the thing…I look at your pictures and none of those people look poor by my country’s standards, You mention flat screened T.V.s – well, that shows that it is a matter of priorities. Why would you choose to have a flat screen tv which is NOT A NEED versus feeding your family properly? That is the problem in the US. Not hunger, but screwed up priorities.

  22. Janice Clark
    July 23, 2014

    Send this article to White House and our Congressmen

  23. matt
    July 23, 2014

    I live in a small town, but most of the homes are around 10 yrs old. Many of the fruit trees have fruit that falls to the ground- noticed; people believe that their fruit are poisonous (there are occasional wild mushrooms, but I won’t even start in to that), I gather wild wheat near a nature trial, when I tell people they treat this as if I were gathering poisonous pellets.

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