Diana Aviv, CEO of America's largest hunger relief organization, addressed the President's Council of Cornell Women this Friday.

Courtesy of Feeding America

Diana Aviv, CEO of America's largest hunger relief organization, addressed the President's Council of Cornell Women this Friday.

March 5, 2017

Feeding America CEO: U.S. Hunger ‘Staggering’

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Diana Aviv, CEO of Feeding America, told the President’s Council of Cornell Women on Friday that the state of hunger across the nation can be summarized in one word: “scandalous.”

Aviv examined the enormity of the problem of domestic food insecurity and the inability to ascertain when, where or how future meals will be obtained.

“The scope of [hunger] is frankly staggering,” Aviv said, “One in every eight people don’t get enough nutritious, healthy food on a regular basis. Fourteen percent of American households are food insecure.”

Aviv contextualized food insecurity by sharing just a few of the stories of the 46 million individuals that Feeding America — the nation’s largest hunger-relief organization — helps annually.

For instance, Aviv relayed the story of Jennifer, who she said works 65 hours a week but still lives in the shadow of food insecurity due to the absence of livable wages.

College campuses are not excluded from the endemic problem of food insecurity, Aviv said.

“Crunch time often hits when students need to buy books, their prepaid monthly meal cards run out, or during academic breaks when dining halls are closed,” Aviv said. “Often, at these times, students don’t know where their next meal will come from.”

While Aviv established that hunger has no single story, and that food-insecure individuals have no typical profile, she urged the audience to consider both the individual circumstances and the broad socioeconomic conditions that are conducive to food insecurity.

For Aviv, the problem of food insecurity can also be related to an almost reckless attitude towards food, especially in the United States.

Food insecurity “is further compounded by the tragic paradox in America, and that is that our country produces enough food to feed the world, and yet 40 percent of usable, consumable food ends up in landfills,” Aviv said.

Consequently, the scope of the problem of food insecurity in America is not only limited to food-insecure individuals, but also extended to businesses, corporations and ordinary Americans who partake in the habit of wastefulness.

“Can we, people lucky enough to live in one of the most prosperous nations on the planet, allow our neighbors to go hungry everyday?” Aviv asked.

For Feeding America, the answer is a resounding “no.” Aviv described how the organization has not only worked with local food banks and pantries to provide immediate hunger relief and supported legislation to reduce food waste, but also formed partnerships with national food corporations to redistribute food.

Aviv emphasized all the ways in which any American could be part of the solution.

Reducing personal food waste, donating personal resources to food banks and hunger-relief organizations and contacting local representatives regarding hunger-related policies are among some of the solutions Aviv noted.

She acknowledged that, as complex as the problem of domestic food insecurity is, there is no single or easy solution.

While Aviv recognized the obstacles of addressing the problem at all levels, she maintained that we must form partnerships between the government, businesses and the people, and continue to push forward.

Aviv refused to consider the challenge as being insurmountable, encouraging all Americans to participate in the fight against food insecurity in whatever capacity.

“It will take our time, and our talent and our resources, as well as our collective tenacity … in our pursuit of a hunger-free America,” Aviv said.

  • CU

    No one is opposed to feeding poor people. But this article is “spin” in that it is composed of unsupported assertions and is even lacking in clearly defined terms. My late father almost starved to death in a concentration camp. May readers assume that something similar is happening in the US today? If so, that would be truly “staggering”. Or is the problem more one of hunger? That is, some people are hungry sometimes? The homeless in NYC seem to be generally normal weight by US standards and maybe overweight by global standards. Or is the problem food insecurity meaning I cannot be sure that I will not be hungry at times? But notice that no one angrily protested her presentation. I guess that’s freedom of speech at least for some people. Grade: C-

    • Bob

      Well the author is clearly summarizing someone else’s views and not her own.

      It did suck though that the author didn’t include a disclaimer that the article “is a summary of Diana Aviv’s views, a very biased person on the subject of hunger. Please be warned that you might be triggered if your Mother’s Father’s Third Cousin was a Holocaust survivor’s 5th cousin”

      • Bob

        I apologize for my insensitivity regarding your late father.

        But I disagree with your Holocaust reference in order to criticize the article.

        • CU

          Not holocaust. Nazi enslavement of Poles. The reference to my father is apt because he suffered true starvation along with many others at that time. What is being portrayed as a “staggering” problem in the article is far removed from true starvation. Also, I was not “triggered” by the article in that I am not calling for the Sun to be shut down or to be prevented from publishing any dumb article they choose to publish. If I were “triggered” in the snowflake sense of the term I would call on anyone whose descendants had not suffered from starvation to refrain from commenting on the topic of hunger since they cannot begin to understand the (nonexistent) harm their comments cause.

  • bigred

    Wow I think Bob’s comment was very insensitive and probably should be taken down by an administrator. However, I do disagree with CU’s comment. I’m sorry about your late father, but that doesn’t mean that many people in America face hunger also, and to neglect that fact seems very short-sighted and rather naive. I mean, yes, the article had a spin, but doesn’t all news articles have one? I thought the author nicely summarized Aviv in why people might face hunger in the U.S. Also, CU forgets that cheap food tends to be much less nutritious/fattier, which can explain how food insecurity is linked to obesity and chronic illness in the U.S.

    • CU

      But which of my comments do you disagree with? I am not saying there is not a hunger/food insecurity/starvation problem. I am saying that no evidence was offered, only a few plausible but potentially misleading anecdotes. I am criticizing the Sun for seeming to endorse the speaker’s assertion entirely uncritically. If the problem were “staggering” perhaps the non profit on point to address could develop compelling facts instead of anecdotes and “spin”.

  • A realistic young Democrat

    As a descendant of Holocaust survivors, I hate it when people use the Holocaust as if something current is comparable. But CU was not doing that. Rather, s/he was making the valid point that people in the U.S. are not actually starving from hunger, as people did in the Holocaust.

    Further, I’d say that poor people in the U.S. may or may not be food-insecure, but they don’t seem to be hungry. If anything, many poor people seem to be overweight (not saying why, just an observation).

  • CU

    Btw, I do not think any comments here should be “taken down” and I would accept Bob’s apology if one were called for. Too be clear, my feelings are not the least bit hurt by any comment here or in the article and so what if they were. I only use my father as an example because he is the only person I know of who almost died from lack of food and who knows others who did die. I personally suffered not a whit and can claim no victim status due to suffering of other people.

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