Joel Berg’s All You Can Eat: How Hungry is America? is something of a primer on hunger and food insecurity in America. It traces the fitful history of nutrition assistance programs in America from the Industrial Revolution, when hunger started to become a serious problem, through the Great Depression, when it could not be ignored (although plenty politicians opposed to “the dole” tried) through the sixties and seventies when federal programs made real strides toward the goal of eliminating hunger completely – through the dark days of the 1980s when ketchup became a vegetable and a smiling grandfatherly president made it okay to hate and punish the less fortunate. There is a chapter devoted to the political minefield of Welfare Reform, which saw an immediate decrease in hunger but then faltered under the Bush administration’s much less than compassionate conservatism and yet another decade of Reaganomics.
Our first big challenge of the Obama presidency is upon us and we are losing badly. Get 50 of your friends to pick up the phone to call your Senators now in support of Obama’s economic stimulus and recovery package. Then do the same thing tomorrow.