Huffpost Impact
The Blog

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Joel John Roberts Headshot

A Diet For a Hungry America

Posted: Updated:

Sometimes when I skip lunch, by the time dinner rolls around I am starving. Correct that. I am not literally dying of hunger, I am just hungry. It is a slip of the tongue for those of us in the First World.


I also confess that I am a calorie-counter, always regulating my daily food intake. Another First World activity. I have that famous (or infamous) book, Eat This, Not That! that proudly sits on my coffee table in the living room. It reminds me to eat a mayo-free turkey sandwich rather than a stack of greasy pizza slices. Even though my stomach craves for those greasy slices of cheese, pepperoni, and baked dough.


I sometimes spend my afternoons with a stomach growling for food sustenance. Woe is me.


If my only problem in this land of plenty, however, is choosing to skip a meal because my calorie count is too high, then I need to consider myself fortunate. Especially, since more than one in seven Americans are hungry enough to receive food assistance through this country's SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), a program also known as food stamps.


Yes, 1 of 7 people in America are hungry. With 47.6 million Americans receiving help just to eat a meal, we are no longer a land of plenty, but a hungry land.


This is such an ironic state for this nation when it is filled with people who are hungry while at the same time more than one-third of Americans are obese.


Perhaps obesity in this country is the reason why a large delegation in Congress is trying to eliminate this country's food stamp program. Perhaps they don't understand why so many Americans are hungry, when there are so many overweight people in our land. Just look at the bellies of many of our Congresspersons when they rush (or perhaps waddle) toward the news cameras, trying to eliminate a $76 million per year program that feeds hungry Americans.


Sure, these lawmakers say that the increase of Americans enrolling in SNAP - from 2007 to 2011, the program increased by 70% - is the reason why this program should be eliminated, or reduced significantly, especially with the need to reduce the federal government's budget. I'm struggling with this logic. Of course, I'm still trying to figure out how this wealthy country possesses so many hungry people, along with so many overweight people.


My only conclusion is that balancing a government budget on the backs of impoverished people is not new in this country.


I think this country needs a new book that reflects a new way of feeding hungry Americans. Instead of an Eat This, Not That! book, we need a book titled, Do This, Not That!


Some of the chapters would include:


Feed Our Children, Don't Ignore Them. Keep the school feeding programs funded and operating so that every school-aged child can at least eat a nutritious, stomach-filling, breakfast. Feeding their stomach helps feed their minds.


Give Every American The Right to Eat, Don't Be Penny-Wise and Pound-Foolish. Saving federal dollars by letting our people go hungry is just plain foolish. All people should have the right to food.


Prevent Hunger, Don't Just Fill Stomachs. I know it sounds cliché, but we should be helping people learn how to fish, not just give them a fish. Ben Franklin would be proud of us if we emphasized hunger prevention programs, like helping people also get jobs. That would be Franklin's ounce of prevention.


I could fill a whole book with chapters that would ensure this country is fed. Because I know that a program that feeds this country's hungry children and adults is what I call a healthy diet for a hungry America.