Friday, March 10, 2006

Bad, but not quite that bad

U.S. Food Policy has been getting incoming links from an online discussion forum, which included the following quote from Chico (a five-star "God Member" of the forum):

Re: Maddening Transatlantic Confusion
Reply #11
- Yesterday at 20:00:02

With 38 million Americans living in hunger or on the edge of hunger, states, cities, food banks, religious groups and other community-based non-profits are already struggling to meet the needs.

America's Second Harvest reports 25 million Americans receive emergency food


Is this true?

I couldn't believe the 38 million figure came from U.S. Food Policy... and it appears it didn't. [3/12/2006: See the humbling correction. It did indeed come from this weblog.] My post on the Second Harvest report cited the estimate of how many Americans receive emergency food. These estimates were initially produced by the reputable consulting firm, Mathematica Policy Research, Inc.

I thought the 38 million figure might have come from following the link to Second Harvest, but the description in the report there is careful, accurate, and pointed:
Recent government data indicate that at least 13.5 million households in the United States (11.9% of all households) were food insecure in 2004, of which 4.4 million (3.9% of all U.S. households) had experienced hunger at some point in that year. The food insecure households contained an estimated 38 million people, of whom almost 14 million were children. The existence of large numbers of people without secure access to adequate nutritious food represents a serious national concern.
Please let me know if you can find the source of the exaggerated description of the meaning of the 38 million people statistic. If it comes from Second Harvest, I am sure they will be glad to edit it, since it is clear above that they are making such a strong effort to provide accurate statistics, and accurate explanations of the statistics.