The world is heading into a horrific economic nightmare, and an inordinate amount of the suffering is going to fall on innocent children. If you want to get an idea of what America is going to look like in the not too distant future, just check out what is happening in Greece. At this point, Greece is experiencing a full-blown economic depression. As I have written about previously, the unemployment rate in Greece has now risen to 27 percent, which is much higher than the peak unemployment rate that the U.S. economy experienced during the Great Depression of the 1930s. And as you will read about below, child hunger is absolutely exploding in Greece right now. Some families are literally trying to survive on pasta and ketchup. But don't think for a moment that it can't happen here. Sadly, the truth is that child hunger is already rising very rapidly in our poverty-stricken cities. Never before have we had so many Americans unable to take care of themselves. Food stamp enrollment and child homelessness have soared to brand new all-time records, and there are actually thousands of Americans that are so poor that they live in tunnels underneath our cities. But for millions of other Americans, the suffering is not quite so dramatic. Instead, they just watch their hopes and their dreams slowly slip away as they struggle to find a way to make it from month to month. There are millions of parents that lead lives that are filled with constant stress and anxiety as they try to figure out how to provide the basics for their children. How do you tell a child that you can't give them any dinner even though you have been trying as hard as you can? What many families go through on a regular basis is absolutely heartbreaking. Unfortunately, more poor families slip through the cracks with each passing day, and these are supposedly times in which we are experiencing an "economic recovery". So what are things going to look like when the next major economic downturn strikes?
A recent New York Times article detailed the horrifying child hunger that we are witnessing in Greece right now. At some schools there are reports of children actually begging for food from their classmates...
As an elementary school principal, Leonidas Nikas is used to seeing children play, laugh and dream about the future. But recently he has seen something altogether different, something he thought was impossible in Greece: children picking through school trash cans for food; needy youngsters asking playmates for leftovers; and an 11-year-old boy, Pantelis Petrakis, bent over with hunger pains.
“He had eaten almost nothing at home,” Mr. Nikas said, sitting in his cramped school office near the port of Piraeus, a working-class suburb of Athens, as the sound of a jump rope skittered across the playground. He confronted Pantelis’s parents, who were ashamed and embarrassed but admitted that they had not been able to find work for months. Their savings were gone, and they were living on rations of pasta and ketchup.
Could you imagine that happening to your children or your grandchildren?
Don't think that it can't happen. Just a few years ago the Greek middle class was vibrant and thriving.
And we are starting to see hunger explode in other European countries as well. For example, in the UK the number of people receiving emergency food rations has increased by 170 percent over the past year.
This is one of the reasons why I get upset when people say that "things are getting better". Yes, the stock market has been setting record highs lately, but things are most definitely not getting better.
Even during this false bubble of debt-fueled economic stability that we are enjoying right now, we continue to see hunger and poverty rise dramatically in America.
Since Barack Obama has been president, the number of Americans on food stamps has grown from 32 million to more than 47 million.
Will we all be on food stamps eventually?
Will we all become dependent on the government for our survival at some point?
According to the Boston Herald, even Tamerlan Tsarnaev was receiving government welfare benefits...
Marathon bombings mastermind Tamerlan Tsarnaev was living on taxpayer-funded state welfare benefits even as he was delving deep into the world of radical anti-American Islamism, the Herald has learned.
State officials confirmed last night that Tsarnaev, slain in a raging gun battle with police last Friday, was receiving benefits along with his wife, Katherine Russell Tsarnaev, and their 3-year-old daughter. The state’s Executive Office of Health and Human Services said those benefits ended in 2012 when the couple stopped meeting income eligibility limits.
Isn't that crazy?
And yes, there are some people out there that are abusing the system. In fact, the cost of food stamp fraud has risen sharply to approximately $750 million in recent years.
But most of the people on these programs really need the help. Thanks to our incredibly foolish economic policies, there are not enough good jobs for everyone and there never will be again. The percentage of Americans that are unable to take care of themselves is going to continue to rise, and the suffering that we are witnessing right now is going to get much, much worse.
Not that things aren't really, really bad already. Here are some signs that child hunger in America has already started to explode...
#1 Today, approximately 17 million children in the United States are facing food insecurity. In other words, that means that "one in four children in the country is living without consistent access to enough nutritious food to live a healthy life."
#2 We are told that we live in the "wealthiest nation" on the planet, and yet more than one out of every four children in the United States is enrolled in the food stamp program.
#3 The average food stamp benefit breaks down to approximately $4 per person per day.
#4 It is being projected that approximately 50 percent of all U.S. children will be on food stamps before they reach the age of 18.
#5 It may be hard to believe, but approximately 57 percent of all children in the United States are currently living in homes that are either considered to be either "low income" or impoverished.
#6 The number of children living on $2.00 a day or less in the United States has grown to 2.8 million. That number has increased by 130 percent since 1996.
#7 According to Feeding America, "households with children reported food insecurity at a significantly higher rate than those without children, 20.6 percent compared to 12.2 percent".
#8 According to a Feeding America hunger study, more than 37 million Americans are now being served by food pantries and soup kitchens.
#10 Approximately 20 million U.S. children rely on school meal programs to keep from going hungry.
#11 One university study estimates that child poverty costs the U.S. economy 500 billion dollars each year.
#12 In Miami, 45 percent of all children are living in poverty.
#13 In Cleveland, more than 50 percent of all children are living in poverty.
#14 According to a recently released report, 60 percent of all children in the city of Detroit are living in poverty.
For many more facts about the dramatic explosion of poverty in this country, please see my previous article entitled "21 Statistics About The Explosive Growth Of Poverty In America That Everyone Should Know".
Unfortunately, most of the time statistics don't really tell the whole story. Numbers alone cannot really communicate the soul-crushing despair that millions of American families are enduring on a daily basis at this point.
How can numbers communicate the pain that a child feels when her grandmother does not eat because there is not enough food for everyone in the family? But this is what some families in America actually go through because there is not enough money...
Vanyshia tells about the sacrifices her Grandmother makes so that she and her siblings can eat. “Sometimes my Grandma can’t even eat because she has to feed me and my brother and sister. Sometimes I don’t eat as much as I want to because I leave some for my Grandma because I don’t want her to sit there and starve. Sometimes she doesn’t have enough money to buy food, so she has to go to the bank and borrow money. It makes me feel sad. I don’t want her to be hungry. I just feel sad sometimes,” says Vanyshia.
Things can be particularly tough when you are a single parent. The BBC recently profiled a single mother that is struggling to raise two young children in Iowa...
"We don't get three meals a day like breakfast, lunch and then dinner," says Kaylie. "When I feel hungry I feel sad and droopy."
Kaylie and Tyler live with their mother Barbara, who used to work in a factory. After losing her job, she was entitled to unemployment benefit and food stamps - this comes to $1,480 (£974) a month.
But they were no longer able to afford to live in their house, which along with bills cost $1,326 (£873) a month, leaving little for food or petrol.
Kaylie supplemented their income by collecting cans along the railway track near their old home - earning between two and five cents per can.
I wonder why we don't see more stuff like this on the mainstream news in this country?
Could it be that the mainstream media does not want to admit how bad things have really gotten?
All of this is also a reminder that we need to be generous to those in need. Times are going to get much, much harder than this, and we are all going to need one another.
So do you have any stories of poverty or child hunger from your area of the country to share? Please feel free to share your thoughts by posting a comment below...