The economics of fighting hunger


“Investment in the eradication of hunger today is a good business decision. If we fail to make this investment, it is
doubtful that we can sustain healthy economic growth. Without this investment, our nation may disintegrate into a
country sharply divided between those who have enough to eat and those who do not.”
— Alan G. Hassenfeld, Chair & CEO of Hasbro, Inc.

If the humanitarian reasons for fighting hunger are not convincing enough, let me put an economic spin on it, by breaking the issue down to dollars and cents.

According to a recent Hunger in America report prepared by the Center for American Progress and Brandeis University,  “Hunger costs our nation at least $167.5 billion due to the combination of lost economic productivity per year, more expensive public education because of the rising costs of poor education outcomes, avoidable health care costs, and the cost of charity to keep families fed.”

The hunger bill directly affects every American citizen and resident.  Oh, it’s not a bill per se.   The costs are embedded in our taxes and in the contributions we pay to charities.  Our nation’s economy is heavily weighed down by the cost of hunger, spending upwards of $94 billion dollars a year, in federal food assistance programs like SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as  “food stamps”).

As the middle-class progressively disappears below the poverty line, the drain on our economy worsens. 

Hunger adversely affects our bottom line. 

Yet, even big corporate executives realize that the eradication of hunger is not simply an issue of economics, but  a more fundamental problem of justice, equality, and humanity.

“America is the richest country in the world. And yet tonight, thousands of your neighbors will go to bed hungry.
It may be your child’s schoolmate who is undernourished and has difficulty learning on an empty stomach.
Or it could be a co-worker, a working mother whose low-wage job doesn’t make ends meet.
Perhaps it’s an elderly neighbor who has to make a decision whether to delay filling a prescription or buying groceries.
The faces of hunger are as broad as the faces of America.”
— David Nasby, retired vice president of General Mills  (one of the world’s largest food companies)

Image (at very top) via

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