Hidden Hunger: The Food Crisis of the United States

by Jane Sandwood

August 10, 2017

By Jane Sandwood

Although there is a huge push to help reduce world hunger, there are less initiatives surrounding the issue of hidden hunger. This is defined by the World Health Organization as a condition that occurs when the quality of food that people eat does not meet the nutrient requirements needed for growth and development. In many developing countries, this can be caused by a lack of resources; however, in developed countries such as the United States, it can be a result of economics and the cost of food.

The Hidden Hunger Issue in the States

When you see coverage of hunger on the news or ads for global hunger relief organizations , they depict starving, skinny children. However, in the United States, the picture of malnutrition is vastly different. People in the US are suffering from hidden hunger, which does not have the typical markers of starvation, but rather it often manifests as obesity. Over the past fifty years, the average male and female body shapes have changed due to a rise in obesity.

The obesity epidemic has disproportionately targeted people from lower-income backgrounds. The cost of living in the United States as well as the cheaper prices of unhealthy foods over healthy foods, have caused low income families to resort to foods lacking nutrients. When money is tight, people prioritize calories over nutrients. Since unhealthy produce such as sugary and processed foods, are full of calories and cheaper than healthy foods, lower-income families have to make do with these items.

Sometimes, grocery stores are also inaccessible without a car, so many families must resort to the local convenience store. These stores are generally filled with junk food rather than the fruits and vegetables that people need. This summer news reports revealed that the most disadvantaged parts of our nation’s Capitol have just three grocery stores for 149,750 people. Lastly, single family households or parents that are working two jobs simply don’t have the time to prepare a healthy meal. Therefore, they opt for fast food and microwavable dinners.

What Can You Do?

If no action is taken, the cost of food is expected to rise in the near-future. We all have a role to play to ensure that everyone has access to adequate nutrients. So, what can you do to help?

-Encourage your local grocery store to promote lower costs or sales promotions for healthy options

-Set up a local organization to help shuttle people to the grocery store

-Teach young children the importance of getting adequate nutrients

-Sponsor a healthy, nutrient-filled food drive

-Set up an community gardening initiative

-Volunteer at a local food bank

-Educate yourself about the food system

Like Gandhi said, “Be the change you wish to see in the world”. One person can really make a difference.

Arthur Biography: Jane Sandwood is a professional freelance writer with over 10 years’ experience across many fields. She decided to move into freelancing to take advantage of the flexibility and work-life balance it offers. Jane has a particular interest in issues relating to health, fitness and nutrition.


  • World Hunger Education
    P.O. Box 29015
    Washington, D.C. 20017
  • For the past 40 years, since its founding in 1976, the mission of World Hunger Education Service is to undertake programs, including Hunger Notes, that
    • Educate the general public and target groups about the extent and causes of hunger and malnutrition in the United States and the world
    • Advance comprehension which integrates ethical, religious, social, economic, political, and scientific perspectives on the world food problem
    • Facilitate communication and networking among those who are working for solutions
    • Promote individual and collective commitments to sustainable hunger solutions.