It may seem a lonely crusade to help ease America's hunger woes. The cause lacks the resonance of the economy, nor is it as grabbing as the war on terror. But Joel Berg
, a national anti-hunger advocate and author, is in Portland with his message that the war on hunger is one that can be won.
“We didn't lose the war on hunger,” says Berg, executive director of New York's Coalition Against Hunger and a former senior USDA executive in the Clinton administration. “We stopped fighting it.”
Touring in support of his book All You Can Eat: How Hungry Is America?
, Berg is promoting programs to help ease the suffering of an estimated 36.2 million Americans (including 12 million children) who cannot afford enough food. Those numbers come from a 2007 survey, which is especially scary given that the recession had not yet hit.
According to a Harvard University study on hunger in America, $90 billion is lost each year from hunger-related health care costs, worsened educational performance, and decreased worker productivity. Berg estimates hunger in America can be erased with a government pledge of $24 billion.
“If you had a hole in your roof that cost you $90 a year in lost heating and electricity," Berg says. "And a handyman came by and offered to fix it for $24, wouldn't you fix it?”
Bolstered by President Obama's pledge to support hunger issues as a primary issue in his first term, Berg and like-minded folks hope to see an end to hunger in America soon. Says Berg: “We can end hunger in a matter of years.”
Berg continues his speaking tour this Tuesday, March 24 at 7:30 at Powell's Books