In early February, I participated in the launch of the commercial version of an application, which had previously been in beta, and only licensed for research and experimental applications. As expected, as soon as the application was available at 4 a.m. Pacific Time, developers started downloading the software development kits, and ordering the associated hardware.
A few days later, Nike launched its Foampositve sneaker. By 6 a.m., a crowd of 150 to 200 people were anxiously awaited the 8 a.m. opening of a Guilderland, New York Foot Locker store so they could be one of the first to purchase the $250 shoe. To accommodate the crowd, store employees passed out tickets, but when people realized there weren’t enough tickets for everyone, mayhem pursued.
It got me thinking, why don’t consumers charge through grocery stores as soon as they open to dash down the aisles in search of newly stocked products or special deals on canned soup and green beans? The fact of the matter is they do, but typically not in America.
In America, there isn’t an acute food shortage. There is however issues with people being able to afford and access food in America. It’s estimated nearly 49 million people in America have food insecurities, including about 16.2 million children. That’ an issue.
The irony is there is plenty of food in America. The problem is unemployment and poverty. According to Feeding America, the highest rates of food insecurity include households with children, especially those headed by single women or single men, along with black and Hispanic households. Around 8% of seniors who live alone don’t have enough to eat, and research shows, food insecurity exists in every county in America, ranging from a low of 5% in Steele County, North Dakota to a high of 38% in Wilcox County, Alabama.
According to the US Census Bureau, in 2010, 21 million people lived in working-poor families, meaning the family’s or person’s income is below the poverty line, and at least one family member works. In the United States, the poverty line is an annual income of $11,344 for a person under 65, and $22,133 for a family of four, which includes two children. In 2010, the US poverty rate in working-poor families rose to 15.1%.
The chart to the right shows how the United States stakes up against other developed nations.
In summary, if you’re counting every penny, you’re not likely to be lining up in front of grocery stores, waiting to purchase the latest flavor of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream. Nothing against Ben & Jerry’s; they’re a fabulous, philanthropic, environmentally conscience company, but someone earning minimum wage, debating over whether to pay their electric bill or purchase a loaf of bread it’s going to be following a Ben & Jerry’s delivery truck in hope of scoring a container of Schweddy Balls.