- In 2012, 49.0 million Americans lived in food insecure households, 33.1 million adults and 15.9 million children.
- In 2012, households with children reported food insecurity at a significantly higher rate than those without children, 20.0 percent compared to 11.9 percent.
- In 2011, 4.8 million seniors (over age 60), or 8.4% of all seniors were food insecure.
- 1 in 6 Americans face hunger on a daily basis. – “Hunger Facts”
“Food insecurity” is a social-science way of saying “hunger.” It refers to a specific kind of hunger, not the I’m-on-a-diet kind of hunger, or the I-missed-a-meal kind of hunger. Food insecurity is the kind of hunger that accepts any kind of junk as “food” because something is better than nothing, that has no idea when the next meal is coming, that has to choose between feeding the teenager and feeding the toddler. Last year, 49 million Americans were that kind of hungry.
Someone in my neighborhood is that kind of hungry. I have no way of judging accurately whether the elderly panhandler outside the supermarket is looking for whiskey or for food. I have no way of judging accurately whether the teen who is eyeing my purse a little too closely is doing it because he is hungry.
Funds for food stamps have been cut. Unemployment funds have been cut. I cannot know for sure which of the people I know are bleeding from those cuts. Maybe you, reading this, are bleeding from those cuts. If so, I am very, very sorry.
But if you have a home, and you have a refrigerator, and it isn’t empty, please consider that this time before Passover is also a time for tzedakah, for that peculiarly Jewish form of “charity” which means “justice.”
Egypt, in Hebrew, is Mitzrayim, the narrow place. Originally that probably referred to the shape of the land, laid out on the banks of the river Nile. But there are Egypts for every generation, and food insecurity is one of the Egypts of ours. Today, getting ready for Passover, lead someone out of Egypt. There are several routes:
- Contribute to your local food bank.
- Learn about food insecurity.
- Participate in a virtual food drive.
- Become a hunger activist.
Or search your house for chametz, the food that we do not eat or even own during Passover. Take unopened packages and cans to a local food drive. If you need help finding one, call your local food bank. Don’t worry that a sack of flour is not a can of soup. If it is unopened and unexpired, someone can use it.
Today, lead someone out of Egypt. You know the way.Image: License Some rights reserved by FW18