Food Politics author and New York University professor of nutrition and public health Marion Nestle has published an exploration of “How U.S. Citizens Can Hold their Government Accountable for Preventing and Reversing Malnutrition” in Global Nutrition Report this week.
Nestle points to an interesting distinction in the language of American hunger that seemingly separates the United States from hunger problems in developing countries. Instead of under-nutrition or malnutrition, “in America we talk about ‘food insecurity,’ defined by government agencies as a [lack of] consistent, dependable, legal access to enough food on a daily basis to support active healthy living.”
To that end, nearly 15 percent of Americans qualify as food insecure “and are therefore at risk of malnutrition but not necessarily displaying clinical signs,” writes Nestle.
Nutrition assistance programs, which cost taxpayers billions of dollars a year, “rarely focus on ways to ensure that even the poorest Americans get enough food to eat, let alone healthy food,” and are often rife with political issues that divide the country.
The answer Nestle suggests is a simple one, but depends on the ability and willingness of American citizens to fill the seats of Congress with individuals who care about such issues, as for now, ours is a Congress for whom “hunger does not resonate.”
As hunger across the country increasingly highlights the wage struggles of America’s food industry employees — farmers and restaurant workers, especially — a movement to raise the minimum wage is gaining more momentum.
In conclusion, Nestle writes, “paying living wages would solve most problems of food insecurity in America.”
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Karen Lo is an associate editor at The Daily Meal. Follow her on Twitter @appleplexy.