November 17th, 2010
03:50 PM ET

U.S. hunger at highest level in 15 years


Volunteers prepare meals for homeless and impoverished people at the St. Anthony Foundation dining room in San Francisco. (PHOTO CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES)

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

As most of us get ready to gather around a bountiful Thanksgiving feast next week... and gorge on turkey and pumpkin pie, here's something to think about:

45 million Americans were food insecure last year - according to an Agriculture Department report.

This means they had difficulty feeding one or more of their members because they didn't have enough money. That's 14.7 percent of all U.S. households - or about one of every seven.

The situation was especially bad for about one-third of the households which reported very low food security.

These numbers are higher than in 2008, and represent the highest levels since the government starting keeping track 15 years ago.

The report found the households most likely to go hungry included those headed by single parents. Access to food was also worse in big cities and among African-Americans and Hispanics.

Out of the 50 states, food insecurity was highest in Arkansas - at nearly 18 percent - and lowest in North Dakota, at close to seven percent.

With numbers like these, it's no surprise that more people are participating in government-sponsored food programs:

More than 15 million households used food stamps in any given month in 2009 - that's a 20 percent jump from the year before. Rates also rose for the free lunch program and the Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children.

The report also shows the number of households getting emergency food from a food pantry almost doubled between 2007 and 2009.

Here’s my question to you: What does it mean when U.S. hunger is at the highest level in 15 years?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?


Filed under: Hunger • United States
August 30th, 2010
05:00 PM ET

1 in 6 Americans taking government aid?


Traditional food stamps like the ones pictured here are no longer distributed. All 50 states now provide debit-style EBT cards. (PHOTO CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES)

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

In case you think times aren't tough... a record one in six Americans is getting aid from the government. One in six.

USA Today reports on the stunning growth of programs like Medicaid, food stamps, unemployment insurance and welfare.

Some numbers: more than 50 million Americans are on medicaid - that's up 17 percent since the recession started.

President Obama's new health care law will add another 16 million people to the health care system. Experts say doctors are already indicating "that they're at their limit."

More than 40 million people get food stamps - an increase of almost 50 percent during the recession. The food stamp program has grown steadily for the last three years.

Almost 10 million people are collecting unemployment insurance, which is about four times as many people that got unemployment in 2007.

Congress has extended unemployment benefits eight times, which now means the unemployed can collect a check for up to 99 weeks... almost two years.

And there are almost four and half million people collecting welfare - an increase of 18 percent during the recession.

Critics worry that it will be hard to cut back on all these programs once the economy recovers. While supporters say the government should be there to help people in bad economic times.

But just remember: we, the American taxpayers, are the ones footing the bill for all of these government programs. And as caseloads continue to increase... the soaring costs will be tacked on to our already skyrocketing deficits. The cost of the food stamp program alone is up 80 percent... and jobless benefits are costing us four times as much as they used to.

Here’s my question to you: What does it mean when 1 in 6 Americans takes government aid?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?


Filed under: Government • Hunger