Americans Suffering Real Hunger

This is both shocking and heart-rending.

In a recent Gallup poll, when asked “Have there been times in the past 12 months when you did not have enough money to buy food that you or your family needed?”, 19% said “yes”. When asked the same question to citizens of China, only 6% said “yes”.

19% of Americans?

That is beyond awful, and I hope that this acts as a wake up call for those of us who have grown complacent, thinking that ‘someone else’ will take care of the problem.

To add emphasis to the above, another Gallup poll indicates that Americans have been deemed to have LESS access to basic necessities than they did at any other time since the beginning of 2008.

The situation is bad, and the trend is for it to get worse. And, it spells trouble for the stability of the US, and by extension, the rest of the world.

They used to say that when America sneezes, the rest of the world catches a cold. Well, what happens when America comes down with pneumonia, cancer and heart disease?

Here’s the text from the Gallup results:

Chinese Struggling Less Than Americans to Afford Basics

Almost one in five Americans say they did not have enough money for food in the past year

by Rajesh Srinivasan and Bryant Ott

WASHINGTON, D.C.– Gallup surveys in China and the U.S. reveal Chinese are struggling less than Americans to put food on their tables. Six percent of Chinese in 2011 say there have been times in the past 12 months when they did not have enough money to buy food that they or their family needed, down significantly from 16% in 2008. Over the same period, the percentage of Americans saying they did not have money for food in the previous 12 months more than doubled from 9% in 2008 to 19% in 2011.

Chinese are also struggling less to afford adequate shelter. Sixteen percent of Chinese say in 2011 there have been times in the past 12 months when they did not have enough money to provide adequate shelter or housing for themselves and their families. This marks considerable progress since 2008, when 21% of Chinese had trouble providing shelter.

Fewer Americans are struggling with housing costs than Chinese, but the number of Americans who are struggling is increasing. Eleven percent of Americans say there have been times in the past 12 months when they could not afford adequate housing, up from 5% in 2008.

Bottom Line

Since the financial crisis began in 2008, more Americans have struggled to buy the food and shelter they and their families need. In China, on the other hand, fewer are struggling despite a slight slowdown in the country’s economic growth.

Key behavioral metrics such as having enough food and adequate shelter are important for leaders to track, Gallup Chairman Jim Clifton writes in his new book, The Coming Jobs War, “not only because they occur before job and GDP growth … but also because without these basic requirements, the populace doesn’t have the energy to solve its everyday problems.”

For complete data sets or custom research from the more than 150 countries Gallup continually surveys, please contact or call             202.715.3030      .

And then, the article on American access to basic necessities:

Americans’ Access to Basic Necessities at Recession Level

More Americans struggling to access healthcare, food, and shelter

by Elizabeth Mendes

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Fewer Americans had access to basic life necessities in September. The nation’s Basic Access Index score fell to 81.4 last month — on par with the 81.5 measured in February and March 2009 amid the recession.

Americans’ access to basic necessities has never fully recovered after declining amid the 2008 to 2009 financial crisis and has declined further since February of this year.

Still, the current 81.4 Basic Access Index score means that the majority of Americans do have access to basic life necessities.

These findings are based on more than 29,000 interviews conducted each month from January 2008 through September 2011 with American adults as a part of the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index. The Basic Access Index includes 13 questions that measure Americans’ access to basic necessities, ranging from food and shelter to clean water and healthcare.

More Americans Struggling With Access to Healthcare, Food, and Shelter

Americans’ access to healthcare, food, and shelter worsened the most in September compared with when the Basic Access Index was at its high point in September 2008. Fewer Americans now have a personal doctor and health insurance. And more Americans are having trouble paying for food and shelter.

The majority of Americans, however, still have access to all 13 basic necessities the index measures.

Bottom Line

While the recession officially ended more than two years ago, the effects on Americans continue to linger. Unemployment remains high and more Americans than ever are living in poverty, which may lead to more people struggling to access basic life necessities such as healthcare, food, and shelter.

Although the vast majority of Americans still report that they are not having trouble accessing basic necessities, the trend is currently going in the wrong direction. Additionally Gallup’s global research finds Americans are now struggling more than Chinese to afford food, a reversal from 2008. If the worries about a double-dip recession come to fruition, even more Americans may start having problems meeting their basic needs.

Additionally, having basic needs met is a precursor to good health, high wellbeing, and ultimately positive economic outcomes. The three Basic Access Index items that have declined the most — having a personal doctor, having health insurance, and visiting a dentist — are all vital components of good preventative care, which ultimately helps to reduce costly and debilitating health problems.

A big thanks goes to Mac Slavo at for his article:

Startling Survey: Americans Are Struggling More Than Chinese to Put Food On The Table

When there is real hunger and need, it takes real people with real heart to go out and help the suffering.

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