By James D. Agresti
November 17, 2011
“One in five children are going to bed hungry in this country every night. That is a crime. That is a crime in this country.” So claims Bob Beckel, Fox News commentator and former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State in the Carter administration.
In truth, Beckel’s figure is off by many multiples. The reality is that 0.26% of households with children experienced child hunger on any given day during 2009. These are the results of a survey of 46,000 households conducted by the Census Bureau for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (page 50).
Even if we look at the entire year instead of “every night,” Beckel’s assertion is still greatly exaggerated. During 2009, 1.5% of households with children experienced child hunger at any point during the year (page 45).
Beckel may have gotten his figure of “one in five” from the fact 23.2% of children live in households classified as “food-insecure” (page 19), but “food-insecure” does not mean hungry. In fact, prior to 2006, this same category of household was explicitly labeled “food-insecure without hunger” (page 4).