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Open Letter to the President of the Sodexo Foundation

Mr. Stephen J. Brady, President
Sodexo Foundation
Gaithersburg, MD

Dear Mr. Brady:

Your foundation’s website says that “Forty-nine million people in the United States are at risk of hunger.”  While this statement’s meaning is vague, I assume that you intend to suggest that 49 million people in America are so poor that they are at serious risk of suffering malnutrition.

Yet today’s New York Times reports on a recent poll by the Pew Research Center that finds that the number of Americans who consider themselves to be middle-class is nine in ten (“So You Think You’re Middle Class?” Dec. 23).  That’s 277 million (out of a total of 308 million) Americans who don’t think of themselves as being poor.  Even if we assume that every one of the 31 million other Americans thinks of himself or herself as being, not rich, but poor – and even if we further assume that every last one of those 31 million people is “at risk of hunger” – your figure of 49 million ‘at-risk-of-hunger’ Americans seems impossible to square with the Pew survey results.

Are there really 18 million people in America who are so unaware of their own circumstances that, even though you classify them as being “at risk of hunger,” they classify themselves, not as poor, but as middle-class?  Seems dubious, to say the least.

While I applaud your efforts to extend a helping hand to needy Americans, you should do so honestly.  In fact, hunger is not a problem in America – not for 49 million people; not even for 31 million people.  In fact, no modern American this side of mental insanity or criminal captivity comes close to starving to death.

Our society’s elimination of one of history’s most consistent killers – starvation and malnutrition from too little food – is complete.  This victory should be celebrated rather than obscured by claims, such as that which adorns your website, that are somewhere between inexcusably obscure and blatantly false.

Donald J. Boudreaux


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