Around 40 million Americans don’t have enough food to eat, and Jeremy Everett is on a mission to make that number zero. Everett, who has served on the National Commission on Hunger, is the founder and executive director of the Texas Hunger Initiative, based at Baylor University. In his new book, I Was Hungry: Cultivating Common Ground to End an American Crisis, Everett argues that hunger in the United States can be eliminated in our lifetime. Drawing upon the experience and expertise gained from decades of anti-hunger advocacy, Everett outlines why a collective and coordinated response to hunger is needed—and why, as Christians, this is a call we can’t ignore. Katie Thompson of the Center for Public Justice spoke with Everett about the causes of and solutions to hunger in America.
When most Americans think about the current crises facing our nation, I’d wager that food insecurity isn’t at the top of the list. Why do you describe it as a crisis?
Approximately 40 million Americans experience food insecurity. My view is that this particular group bears the weight of all the brokenness in our social systems. Often, we look at Americans experiencing hunger or food insecurity and place them in different categories than Americans who, say, lack access to healthcare, live in poverty, or struggle to find good jobs. But the reality, on the local level, is that these groups are all part of the same family. Their struggles are interconnected.
In my book, I refer to the “trade-offs” people confront each month. “Do I pay rent? Do I buy food? Do I pay for medication? Do I pay my car payment? Do I pay the electric bill?” They have to decide to prioritize specific expenses, because they ...1