Food Channel's “Hunger Hits Home” Exaggerates Hunger, Proposes More Government

By:  Thomas R. Eddlem
04/16/2012
       
Food Channel's “Hunger Hits Home” Exaggerates Hunger, Proposes More Government

The Food Network broadcast a documentary “Hunger Hits Home” April 14 that exaggerated the level of childhood hunger in the United States by at least a factor of 20.

 
 

The Food Network broadcast a documentary “Hunger Hits Home” April 14 that exaggerated the level of childhood hunger in the United States by at least a factor of 20.

 
“America has a problem,” narrator Jeff Bridges began the documentary. “One in five of our children struggles with hunger.... Childhood hunger is a crisis, right here at home.” Bridges was backed up by statements from U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsak, who told interviewers “We're a wealthy nation, we're a powerful nation. One out of five of our children simply doesn't get enough to eat.”
 
But here's the problem with these shocking statements: there is absolutely no truth to them.
 
The data that allegedly backs up Vilsak's shocking allegations (and Bridges' echo of Vilsak) comes from U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) studies on childhood “food security,” a term that is not synonymous with either child nutrition or child hunger. The annual USDA studies do confirm that one in five families in America have “low food security,” but these same studies also demonstrate that only one percent of children experienced actual hunger at any time during 2010 (the most recent year statistics are available).
 
The September 2011 USDA study Household Food Security in the United States in 2010 explained that “children are usually shielded from the disrupted eating patterns and reduced food intake that characterize very low food security,” and noted that “both children and adults experienced instances of very low food security in 1.0 percent of households with children (386,000 households) in 2010, essentially unchanged from 1.2 percent in 2009.” This can be contrasted with the claims by “Hunger Hits Home” that “more than 16 million children in America struggle with hunger.”
 
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Photo: Volunteers pass out food items from a Feeding America food bank
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