Hunger in America: Farm Journal Forum Addresses the Realities

By: Sarah Romotsky, RD Date: 12/14/11

We've all seen the tragic pictures of starving children in Africa or heard stories about hungry people around the world, but what about in America? Although it's not a picture or story we are exposed to often in the media, hunger in America is more real than many of us realize.

I recently attended the Farm Journal Forum, which took place in Washington D.C. last week and provided a venue where academicians, economists, politicians, and government officials could openly discuss agricultural issues, including national food insecurity. In his keynote address, Howard Buffett, President of the Howard G. Buffett Foundation said that more than 50 million Americans don't know where their next meal is coming from and 1 in 4 children go to bed hungry at night. To illustrate this fact, Buffett shared an enlightening anecdote: A family in a middle to upper class neighborhood of Nebraska left their garage door open one night, leaving furniture, electronics, appliances, and sports equipment vulnerable to theft. In the morning, the family found that the only thing missing in the garage was the food from their refrigerator.

The prevalence of food-insecurity in America may be surprising given that a lot of attention is focused on the obesity epidemic and Americans eating too much. But as Buffett's story reveals, there are still Americans who don't have consistent access to food, and they may even be in your neighborhood. Lisa Davis, Vice President of Public Policy at Feeding America, describes this issue as a 'hidden epidemic.' The economic recession has left millions of people struggling to provide food for their families, forcing them to rely on food banks and government assistance programs to survive.

Although the speakers at the Farm Journal Forum all spoke hopefully about the economy eventually improving, the problem of food insecurity in America and around the world will likely get worse as the population continues to increase. As of October 2011, there were 7 billion people in this world and by 2050, the population is expected to reach more than 9 billion.  With this rising population and a limited amount of land to grow food crops, the challenge is finding the resources necessary to feed the world.

The closing thought at the Farm Journal Forum was that we need to use all resources at our disposal to meet this challenge, including biotechnology. Food biotechnology makes it possible to produce more food on less land by reducing the amount of crops lost to disease and pests. In addition, crops that can grow in harsh environmental conditions and on land that was once unsuitable for agriculture are currently in development. Modern agriculture production results in higher crop productivity, which means more food for people the world over.

For more information on modern food production, visit:

Questions and Answers About Modern Food Production

Fact Sheet: Benefits of Food Biotechnology

Questions and Answers about Food Biotechnology