Challenged by Joseph over at Martini Republic's latest new festering sore of a site - (which, of course, I mean in only the nicest way, see above link), for fellow bloggers to examine the hunger story in the LA Times and Daily News, my carefully evaluated judgment is that the story is... strictly from hunger.
Let's start with the first line of the LAT's article:
"Hunger and poor nutrition are increasing in
OK - the operative phrase here is - "struggle each day to keep food on the table".
Then let's go a little deeper, scratch that, more accurately, let's go further into the article:
"In Los Angeles, 34% of low-income adults - about 957,000 people - experienced periods when they could not afford enough food in 2003, up from 31% in 2001."
OK - so which is it - these surveyed people daily struggle to feed themselves as it states in the lede, - or they experienced periods (of no specified length - one day - two days - three hours - fifteen minutes) when they could not afford enough food.
These are two very different things.
Now based on having reviewed the questions and methodology of many surveys that were heavily biased to create a desired result, my very totally off-the-cuff opinion is that this study is largely bogus. But I would, of course, need to see the actual survey myself to see how much it created this 'growing' hunger problem.
However, based on my personal experience, I feed myself on 3 to 4 dollars a day, when I have to, 5 dollars on an average day and around 6 dollars a day on a very good day. Now I do not buy processed or packaged foods or expensive fast foods, nor do I buy wine or beer. I am also not addicted to drugs and the only people I ever regularly see who do not have the money for food in my neighborhood, are those who use all their money to buy drugs or alcohol. And that is a not insubstantial percentage of the very poor in this city.
I also shop only in low income stores (downtown, Pico-Union, McArthur Park) and when I see people buying with food stamps, most of the time - they have plenty of cash to buy non-essential, alcohol and plenty of pre-packaged foods. And this is something I observe on a daily basis. Only once in a great, great while do I see an older man or woman strugling with a decision if they can afford an item when they come up to the cash register, and then I try to slip them a dollar or so, but more often then not, they refuse it.
Plus in the heart of the skid row district where I live and work, the biggest problem is diabetes from over-eating as even the homeless can easily score five hot meals a day by going from mission to mission. Now that is not to say that there aren't families that do have periods of time they might not have as much food as they want at the end of the month. I have that, too.
Now is there some on-going hunger in LA County? And is this something we need to concern ourselves with? No question! But first we need to be truthful about the realities of the problem, and the true underlying reasons for that hunger.
And from daily watching the way people shop in the local markets, and by daily talking with and living among these people and by watching the hugely obese younger children in the poorest neighborhoods in the city, I can really see the poor nutrition part. But do I actually believe there are substantial numbers of people permanently nightly going to bed hungry?
My carefully rendered opinion is - bullshit!
Just read Daily News article - and get a load of this quote:
"The report makes a distinction between what it calls food insecurity, or being at risk of going hungry, and hunger, in which adults actually complained of being hungry or missing meals on several occasions."
So... if you have ever been hungry or if you have ever even missed meals on several occasions, then you are apart of the hard core hungry category. But, besides them, there are those people who aren't hungry and who never miss meals (if the paper is accurately reporting thier criteria) - but there is the chance that they might at some time in the future, just maybe might miss a meal or feel hungry. And they are also listed as being among the millions of hungry people in California.
So to use those definitions to create a 'hunger crisis' in LA - is beyond bullshit. It is deliberate and blatant dishonestly.