INVISIBLE

50M Americans Struggle to Eat

Thanks largely to the economic crisis, some 50 million Americans had trouble obtaining enough food in 2008, according to a new report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture—the highest figure since the government began following that statistic and a 4 percent increase over the previous year. The number of children living in households with low or very low food security (meaning that the household struggles to maintain access to food) rose by 4 million to 17 million (22.5 percent), with 1.1 million in the "very low" category. Experts and advocates were amazed by the jump: "It's like we are living in a Third World country," said Vicki Escarra, president of Feeding America. President Obama, meanwhile, reiterated his goal of eliminating childhood hunger by 2015, while Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack called the report "a wake-up call." One interesting wrinkle of the study: most families with low food security have at least one adult working full-time, meaning that low wages are at least partly to blame.