Hunger in the Land of Plenty: A Critical Look at Food Insecurity

Hunger in the Land of Plenty is the first critical review of food insecurity in America and the various policy provisions that have been enacted to deal with the problem.  The book is “critical” in the sense that it challenges well-established assumptions and conventional wisdom.  It also spends as much time analyzing the various policy provisions that allegedly deal with the food insecurity problem (food pantries, SNAP, school lunch programs, Meals on Wheels) as on describing the extent and location of the problem.

The book dismantles with evidence the basic paradigm of food insecurity theory.  The existing literature on food insecurity is strewn across numerous disciplines: sociology, policy science, social work, economics, anthropology, nutrition, nursing, public health, agriculture and more.  Ours is (we believe) the first effort to pull all these disciplinary literatures together into a single statement on the nature of the problem and various proposed solutions.  “Food insecurity” and related issues are now on the national political agenda, but much of the literature (for example, that dealing with “food deserts” or the benefits of SNAP participation) is little more than wishful thinking.  Our book clears away a lot of the underbrush in the literature so the principal features of the policy landscape stand out more clearly.

The problem of food insecurity is a serious one but has been inadequately described in prior research, thus poorly understood, and most of the policies that have been enacted to deal with the problem fail for various reasons that are explored in detail.

A far-reaching and important conversation on food insecurity that raises a number of critical questions-not just about the issue itself, but about the assumptions we make about it.

— Stephen J. Scanlan, Ohio University