Our Readers' Opinions
January 18, 2008
Hunger and poverty – Is there a solution?


Editor: Poverty has existed for a very long time, and to different extents remains worldwide even in this 21st century.

Poverty does come in different forms and extents, but is always harmful to those concerned, and especially harmful to children.{{more}}

Poverty is also harmful to society as a whole. Poverty breeds crime. Absolute poverty involves people and their children having extreme difficulty in merely surviving.

Such poverty at its worst can involve hunger, amounting to starvation, often combined with inadequate shelter or housing, and can be common in more primitive societies especially. But in richer societies where the poor are a minority, relative poverty generally involves the inability to obtain social necessities available to the majority – and is often intensified by social exclusion.

In a society where 90% rely on their own computer and car, then those who cannot afford these things may function badly and are poor and may well be ostracised or socially excluded from society.

In St. Vincent and the Grenadines, almost 40% of the population exists in relative poverty. Presently, a poverty-assessment survey is underway by the government to ascertain the true picture of poverty and its effects on those persons who live below the poverty line in SVG. I eagerly await the findings of this poverty report and look forward to a practical and realistic approach to poverty reduction in SVG. I remember my grandmother’s words: “Poverty dry like chips. It has no sauce. When yo belly gripe from hunger, you belching wind, air, and you can’t even too-too.”

There is also an old adage: “when the economy catches a cold, people in poverty get pneumonia.” How does one account for the level of poverty and hunger in the richest country in the world – USA? There is simply no reason that in one of the greatest, wealthiest cities on earth, any New Yorker should go hungry, nor exist in poverty in rich New York City. Yet the reality is that more than 1.5 million New Yorkers – or one in six city residents – cannot afford an adequate and consistent supply of food on a daily basis. It is a worrisome sign, but it does not come as a surprise to working New Yorkers. They know from experience that declining wages and increasing costs for housing, food and other basic necessities have caused hunger and poverty to rise in the city of New York.

The rapid rise in hunger and poverty is one of the first signs that the American economy has started a significant slowdown. Given that hunger continued to increase in the city, even when the economy was still strong last year, it is no wonder that how, when the economy is weakening, lines at food pantries and soup kitchens are getting worse. The lines are growing at an alarming rate with no end in sight.

Hundreds of poor people are joining the lines daily. This fact was quite evident on the most American of holidays – Thanksgiving Day. Traditionally, Thanksgiving is a time of happiness and abundance, where Americans celebrate the day with families, friends and plenty food to waste. Most Americans, but not all, enjoyed sumptuous meals and too much to drink on Thanksgiving Day this year.

Some New Yorkers were very cautious this year and looked at their

budget. Others simply had nothing to eat and had to line up at the food pantries.

I enjoyed my ITAL dish – (no turkey and ham) compliments of a black

heart Rastaman in Brooklyn. Thanks brethren. There are over 1000 food pantries and soup kitchens in New York City, but according to the NYC Coalition Against Hunger annual survey this year entitled: “Rising Food Lines, Sinking Economy: Increase in NYC Hunger is Early Proof of Economic Slowdown” and has called for the creation of an emergency hunger plan for NYC.

Conley Rose