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Hunger in the World

May 11, 1987

In an article on the world food surplus (April 26) Dennis T. Avery, a State Department analyst is quoted as saying: "The world has never been as well fed. Most of the public still believes there's a huge reservoir of hungry mouths out there. There isn't."

This is a terribly insensitive statement, though perhaps not a surprising one from a member of an Administration that has resolutely refused to open its eyes to the facts of hunger.

Even though the African famine crisis has eased, the international Food and Agriculture Organization still estimates that 16 million in 11 African countries need food aid. In our own country the Physician Task Force has estimated conservatively that there are 20 million hungry people.

These people are hungry because they are poor; they lack the resources to buy the food piling up in grain elevators. Between 1980 and 1984 the number of poor people in the United States increased about 5 million, but the number receiving food stamps did not increase at all because of Reagan Administration budgetary restrictions.

The WIC (Women Infants and Children) program, which provides food aid for infants, young children and pregnant and breast-feeding women, reaches only about half of those who need it, again because of budgetary restrictions.

The problem of agricultural surpluses is a complex one that does not admit of easy solutions, but the search for a solution is not helped by perpetuating myths about the absence of hunger in our world.

PAUL C. EKLOF

Costa Mesa

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