food insecurity

Parke Wilde has the scoop on a story that should be garnering more attention. He reports that the USDA concluded this year that “food insecurity” has reached record highs – the worst since data collection began:

USDA reported that 3.9 % of U.S. households experienced “food insecurity with hunger” in 2004, up from 3.5 % in 2003.

Household food insecurity is measured with a battery of 18 survey questions about symptoms of food-related hardship. According to the official definition, “food security” means access by all household members at all times to enough food for an active, healthy life. “Food insecurity” means the household was not classified as food secure.

In the Fall of 2004, the Bush administration delayed release of food insecurity numbers from October until after the election in November. In this Friedman School policy point last October, I tried to press USDA to make the results public before the election, but with no success. This year, the statistics were released in October as scheduled.

Statistics like this reveal the myopia of economic analysis that doesn’t take into account what should really matter: qualify of life. This is a point made over and over in The Affluent Society, by Galbraith (John) – that our obsession with GDP growth is not only shortsighted but is actually harmful to the goals of a progressive society.

For more on how the people of this country have very little to show for the supposed economic success of Bush’s tax cuts over the last 5 years, see epinet’s tour.

UPDATE: Parke has more on a party-line vote to cut food stamps.