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Frequently Asked Questions about Food/Nutrition/Hunger


1. How is hunger defined?

According to the Center on Hunger and Poverty: 1. Hunger is defined as the uneasy or painful sensation caused by a recurrent or involuntary lack of food and is a potential, although not necessary consequence of food insecurity. Over time, hunger may result in malnutrition. 2. Food insecurity occurs whenever the availability of nutritionally adequate and safe food, or the ability to acquire acceptable foods in socially acceptable ways, is limited or uncertain.

2. How is hunger measured?

Through set definitions on hunger and food insecurity, an 18 item U.S. household Food Security Survey Module or a short 6 item Short module is conducted by the Census Bureau through a randomized phone questionnaire. The USDA offers a "Guide to Measuring Food Security," that explains how they define "hunger," "food insecurity," and "food insecure with hunger" and how data is systemically collected each year through a Census Bureau survey. The Center on Hunger and Poverty also explains food security measurement.

3. How do I find statistics on hunger and participation in the federal food assistance programs?

The Food and Nutrition Service of the USDA would be the best place to find national and state statistics and information on all of the federal food assistance programs. The most recent document on hunger statistics is the Household Food Insecurity in the U.S. 2002, and includes demographic and geographical information.

4. How does a resource rich nation like the U.S. have hunger?

It is difficult to believe hunger is a problem, but 33.6 million people go hungry or are at the risk for hunger each year. Hunger can and does affect anyone, including working people who despite having a job cannot keep up with the high living costs typical of more and more people in the United States. With unemployment and high housing costs, food is often relegated to the bottom of the list once other basic living costs are paid. As healthcare costs rise, the tighter the budgets become, especially for the elderly who are often forced to choose between medicine or food. Millions of working families, not just the homeless, face food insecurity each day.

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