A Monday New York Times business story by Elizabeth Olson provided some unusual good press to Big Food, at least in aid of the wildly overstated liberal cause of “hunger” in America: “From a Food Giant, a Broad Effort to Feed Hungry Children.”
Conagra Foods, whose social cause is ending child hunger, is taking a new approach to raise the issue’s visibility. The company is starting its largest campaign ever, including a television special, to spur more grass-roots involvement to make sure no child goes hungry.
The Omaha-based ConAgra financed a 30-minute program, hosted by Al Roker of the “Today” show on NBC, to tell the stories of American families who, each day, face the question of whether they will have enough to eat. One 8-year-old boy says, “I eat less so my sisters can have another meal.”
“Child hunger is not a problem, it’s a crisis,” Mr. Roker said in an interview, referring to the 17.2 million children the Agriculture Department estimates are at risk of lacking food. In the special, Mr. Roker, along with an NBC correspondent, Natalie Morales, highlights the effects of hunger on children’s ability to learn and complete their education.
The source of that undigested “17.2 million children” statistic isn't given but may refer to this Agriculture Department “Food Security Status” report from 2009, which states that 17.2 million children live in “Food-Insecure Households,” which are defined this way: “At times during the year, these households were uncertain of having, or unable to acquire, enough food to meet the needs of all their members because they had insufficient money or other resources for food.”
That’s a far more amorphous concept than the word “hunger” used by the Times and Conagra, which conjures up malnutrition and starvation.
While the Times has often gone after “Big Food” for fattening up kids and dismissed its denials, in this case the Times eagerly swallowed dubious statistics, without pesky questions concerning how a big food conglomerate may conceivably benefit from government efforts to fight hunger.