When it comes to hunger, Yemen is the world’s champion, hands down. Yemen’s hunger is a long-term problem, but in the past few years, a war led by Saudi Arabia and aided and abetted by both the Obama and Trump Administrations, has turned it into an unprecedented slaughter of the innocents.
10,000 Yemeni civilians have been bombed to death. 2000 more have been killed by a war-related cholera epidemic, which recently registered it’s one millionth case in 18 months. The good news is that the curve of cholera cases is turning down. The worst may be over. Another war-caused outbreak — of diphtheria — is also rampant in parts of Yemen…678 cases and 48 associated deaths reported by the World Health Organization in the last 4 four months, but half the cases came in the past 3 weeks, and worse numbers are ahead.
Worst-case survival estimates are in order for both the cholera and diphtheria sufferers, because so many of them are starving. In fact, in a country whose total population is a bit under 30 million, just under 30% of the people are what we in the United States call “food insecure.” 8.3 million Yemenis depend entirely on foreign aid for food, another 8 million get by but without reliable sources of either clean food or safe water.
According to the UN’s World Food Program this is the world’s biggest food crisis, and has left 1.8 million children acutely malnourished, of whom some 400,000 already face slow death from starvation.
A Trump Administration that has largely turned a blind eye to Yemen’s famine crisis seems equally uninterested in admittedly less drastic hunger problems in America.
Less drastic, but still, there are huge numbers of people for whom this country needs to be made great again, and the Trump people seemingly couldn’t care less.
With about 13% of our population living under what our government officially calls “food insecurity,” with 41 million Americans, 13 million of them children, “missing meals, relying on food banks or food stamps, borrowing money for food, or neglecting bills and rent in order to buy groceries,” President Trump wants to cut federal funding for food aid, and make it harder for people to qualify for food stamps.”
The recent report on President Trump’s medical health suggested he could cut back on the cheeseburgers and lose 10 to 15 pounds. His doctor also said Mr. Trump needed to get more exercise. Might one say for both recommendations – “Fat chance?”
Joel Berg is a nationally recognized leader and media spokesman in the fields of domestic hunger, food security, obesity, poverty, food-related economic development, national service, and volunteerism. He is CEO of Hunger Free America. He is also the author of All You Can Eat: How Hungry Is America? , the definitive and most well-reviewed book on American hunger of the last decade. Seven Stories Press just published his second book, “America We Need to Talk: a Self Help Book for the Nation.” Nobel Prize-winner Toni Morrison called the book important and entertaining.
Joel currently leads Hunger Free America, formerly known as the New York City Coalition Against Hunger. Joining the organization in 2001, Joel has grown the nonprofit into a multi-million-dollar, respected national champion for Americans struggling to obtain nutritious food. Hunger Free America is building a nonpartisan grassroots movement coast-to-coast to enact the economic policies and programs needed to finally solve the problem of domestic hunger. Operating on the philosophy, “Ending hunger lifts us all,” Joel and his team advocate for systemic change across the country, seeking higher wages, more living wage jobs, and a stronger nutrition safety net.
Prior to his work with Hunger Free America, Joel served for eight years in the Clinton Administration in senior executive service positions at USDA. For two years, he acted as USDA Coordinator of Community Food Security, a new position in which he created and implemented the first-ever federal initiative to better enable faith-based and other nonprofit groups to fight hunger, bolster food security, and help low-income Americans move out of poverty. In addition, Joel worked as USDA Coordinator of Food Recovery and Gleaning for two years, working with community groups to increase the amount of food recovered, gleaned, and distributed to hungry Americans. Also while at USDA, he served as Director of National Service, Director of Public Liaison, and as acting Director of Public Affairs and Press Secretary.