Admitting it would be like telling our loved ones that we don't trust them, but it doesn't have anything to do with them, with our social standing or family finances. It has to do with the insecurity of dramatic economic changes on a global level. We mostly push it out of our "personal" perception and try to think of economy as a subject not particularly relevant in our own lives.
Our ancient brains know, though. They remember famines, chaos, insecurity of home and hearth. Our bodies know to hang on to fat if we're not eating enough, for survival's sake. No matter how "evolved" we think we are, or how intellectually superior to physical reactions, we are still physical beings with physical needs and instinctive responses to those needs going unmet. In our overly-urbanized world, where we don't learn survival skills and land is all owned by somebody, we have a real and valid fear of losing our security. Job loss, health failure, economic collapse, robbery, bad investment choices, natural disasters -- there are dozens of situations that could land any one of us on the street.
I have to admit to a certain amount of fear being the motivation for starting Benefit Brownies. I am embracing the opportunity to learn from people who are forced to live rough. I'm finding out about social, charitable, and government programs, how they work, and who qualifies. I'm learning where free electric outlets are in downtown Portland. How shelters prioritize who receives a bed. Where and when free meals are offered.
I think that because I dieted a lot when I was young, I have an over-developed fear of hunger. Other people say that if calorie-rich foods aren't in the house, they aren't tempted, so it's easier to eat healthy. I'm the opposite -- if there isn't much food around I feel a sense of panic and need and powerlessness. But when the cupboard is stocked, I don't need to snack, because I know it'll be there if and when I want it.
The officially politically correct term for the hunger problem is "food insecurity." I hear it bandied about all the time. It's a relatively sterile, impersonal term we can all be comfortable with. It doesn't touch our secret, deeply hidden primal fear.
Imagine how the hungry people feel. The ones without family or friends or anybody who cares. "Food insecurity" doesn't come close to describing the ache of a constantly empty stomach, the cold that seeps deeper into a too-thin body, the pain of seeing gluttonous overeating and food waste to which one has no access or claim.
We ought to retire the term "food insecurity" and call it what it really is -- hunger. Hunger is personal and real, and when we allow ourselves to feel it and fear it and empathize, we can fight to end it.