So what exactly is “hunger?”

We’re in the process of doing some research about attitudes and perceptions of hunger.  More details to come, but it’s a bit of follow-up on some of the informal research we did last summer with participants of RAGBRAI.   

Last week we watched four different focus groups in two distinctly different parts of the U.S. come together to share their perceptions.

One of the things made clear–and this is not news to those who’ve been involved in the issue for a while–is that we have some  challenges as we use the word “hunger,” especially as it applies to much of the problem in the U.S. 

Many people believe “hunger” should apply only to situations in which there simply is little or no food available.  Sub-Saharan Africa, for example.    

They believe “malnourished,”  “food poverty,”  or the more commonly-used term “food insecurity” are more appropriate to describe the challenge–still quite serious–that we face in our own country.  They believe that when we use the word “hunger,” we create a disconnect that makes mention of the staggering numbers of people affected less believable. 

What do you think?

Hunger is not a problem in my community

By Ed Nicholson

We recently spent a week traveling through Iowa with the rolling circus that is RAGBRAI  (I still have lots left to talk about there; more later).   The bicycle ride features 15,000 registered riders and thousands more who come along for the ride. Practically every state in the union is represented.

One of the things we did as part of that effort is a brief survey among participants to assess what people know about hunger and hunger organizations.

Questions 3 and 4 of the survey were specifically designed to gauge attitudes about how serious a problem people believed hunger to be in their own community.

From the more than 1350 respondents, more than 81% answered that hunger was either a “moderate” “low priority,” problem or  that there is “little or no hunger in my community.”

Only 19% believed hunger is either a critical or serious problem in their community.

53% believed that the majority of people affected by hunger could do something about it if they made adjustments in their lifestyle.

Is it possible our efforts to end hunger are being diluted because many believe it’s either not a problem in their own communities, or is a problem of the victims’ own making?