Seven Stories Press

Works of Radical Imagination

All You Can Eat

How Hungry is America?

by Joel Berg

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Finalist, 2008 Harry Chapin Media Awards

With the biting wit of Supersize Me’s Morgan Spurlock and the passion of a lifelong activist, Joel Berg has his eye on the growing number of people who are forced to wait in line at food pantries across the nation—the modern breadline. All You Can Eat reveals that hunger is a problem as American as apple pie, and shows what it is like when your income is not enough to cover rising housing and living costs and put food on the table.

In this book, Berg takes to task politicians who remain inactive; the media, which ignores hunger except during holidays and hurricanes; and the food industry, which makes fattening, artery-clogging fast food more accessible to the nation's poor than healthy fare. A spirited call to action, All You Can Eat shows how practical solutions for hungry Americans will ultimately benefit America's economy and all of its citizens.

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“Berg, executive director of the New York City Coalition Against Hunger, spotlights domestic poverty and hunger in this book that has sharp words for politicians, charities and religious denominations. The author reveals how consistently the federal government has ignored the fact that 35.5 million Americans, including 12.6 million children, don't have enough to eat. Although local governments cared for hungry and poverty-stricken citizens in the pre-Depression years, contemporary politicos in Washington have alternately denied that hunger is a problem, then admitted its existence, then tried to eradicate it with programs that rarely last. Whether he is reasoning why the word hunger is better and more to-the-point than the government's term food insecure, pillorying hunger surveys that don't count the homeless or demonstrating how even well-meaning social services contribute to the problem, Berg is a passionate and articulate advocate.”

“Hunger is a national disgrace in America. Joel Berg has, in a straightforward and provocative way, given all of us a framework with which to deal with it.”

“Joel Berg unmasks this invisible crisis in his well-researched book just as it threatens to get even worse. A must-read for policy makers and anyone interested in the well-being of tens of millions of Americans.”

“Joel Berg is, flat out, one of the boldest thinkers in the fight [against hunger], and All You Can Eat will prove it.”

All You Can Eat makes the powerful case that Americans have both a moral imperative and a collective self-interest to end hunger.”

blog — November 30

We're Donating 10% of Online Proceeds to Hunger Free America

We're very proud to announce that, for the month of December, we are donating 10% of our online proceeds to Hunger Free America. Hunger Free America is a national direct service and advocacy nonprofit group working to enact the policies and programs needed to end domestic hunger and ensure that all Americans have sufficient access to nutritious food.

- Hunger has skyrocketed from 37 million Americans before the pandemic to an estimated 50 million Americans this year including 17 million children (according to Feeding America).

- From March 2020 to July 2020, the total SNAP caseload in 33 states increased from 30.8 million to 35.2 million – a 14 percent jump (according to the new HFA Annual Hunger Report).

- The total amount of SNAP benefits received from March 2020 to July 2020 in 22 states – including California, Texas, Florida, New York, and Ohio – went up from $3 billion to $4.4 billion, which represents a 47% increase (also according to the new HFA Annual Hunger Report.)

- 22.5 percent of food pantries and soup kitchens across the country were forced to turn people away, reduce the amount of food distributed, or limit hours due to a lack of resources in 2020 (also according to the new HFA Annual Hunger Report).

- Food pantries and soup kitchens across the country experienced a nearly 15 percent increase in the number of people served in 2020 (also according to the new HFA Annual Hunger Report). 

Hunger Free America found that 37% of parents nationwide were cutting the size of meals or skipping meals for their children in the spring of 2020 because they did not have enough money for food. That means that the current child hunger rate is more than 2.5x the 2019 rate found by USDA.

New federal data analyzed by Northwestern University also found that overall food insecurity has doubled, and child food insecurity has tripled, during the pandemic.

Since its founding in 1983, Hunger Free America has been an effective champion in the fight for economic, racial, and food justice. As a leading research and advocacy organization, they work to implement innovative yet practical solutions to hunger, working to address the root causes of hunger and engage Americans of all backgrounds in the fight to ensure that our society provides living wage jobs and an adequate government nutrition safety net. By working to end hunger through government policy instead of charity, Hunger Free America offers a powerful lobby for real, substantial improvement to America's anemic social safety net.

As a direct service provider, Hunger Free America assists low-income families in obtaining aid from government programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) — formerly called the Food Stamp program — and the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program, so that people struggling to pay their bills have access to nutritious food. They also connect families nationwide with private food resources. Because the Hunger Free America staff works daily on the front lines of hunger, and because they empower low-income people to speak out on their own behalf, they are one of the nation's most effective advocates for improved economic and public policies.

We're proud to publish the work of Joel Berg, CEO of Hunger Free America and author of All You Can Eat: How Hungry is America?  and America, We Need to Talk: A Self-Help Book for the Nation

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Labeled “Mister Frowny Pants” by The Daily Show with Jon Stewart (on which he once appeared), Joel Berg is the CEO of Hunger Free America, which the Nation called “one of the leading direct service and advocacy organizations on hunger and poverty in the nation.” Berg wrote the decade’s definitive book on US hunger, All You Can Eat: How Hungry Is America? (Seven Stories Press, 2008). Playboy (which Berg reads only for the reviews) called the book “refreshing” for its “optimism . . . rationality and passion.” Berg has also published numerous op-eds, poems, and policy papers and was a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress and a Policy Analyst at the Progressive Policy Institute, two DC-based think tanks. Berg has delivered hundreds of keynote speeches on four continents and in thirty-seven states, from Maine to Alaska, while surviving moose attacks and volcanic eruptions. One audience member wrote, “Seeing Joel Berg speak in person is like watching the History Channel, C-Span, and Comedy Central all at once.”  Noted by City Limits magazine for his “trademark good-natured snarkiness,” Berg has been covered extensively by national and international media, appearing on Hardball with Chris Matthews, Fox News, CNN, National Public Radio, The Kudlow ReportAll In with Chris Hayes, and the NBC Evening News, and quoted by the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, and tons of obscure blogs. Berg has also been featured in three documentary films. Prior to joining Hunger Free America, Berg worked for eight years in senior executive service positions in Bill Clinton’s presidential administration, served on the Clinton/Gore Presidential Transition Team, and staffed the 1992 Bill Clinton for President campaign. While working for 13 years as a political campaign professional, Berg lived in Kansas, Alaska, New Jersey, Maine, Arkansas, and New York. Berg is also the author of America, We Need to Talk: A Self-Help Book for the Nation and All You Can Eat: How Hungry is America?​ ​​ He now resides in Brooklyn, New York but has yet to overdose on local, artisanal kale chips.