There is little to no systematic evidence that poverty-linked undernutrition–malnutrition caused by too little food intake–is an actual problem in America. “Food insecurity” numbers batted around by the FDA do not mean that people actually went hungry; they mean that people worried about going hungry, or changed their diet–usually by altering the composition of the diet, not by forgoing food–to avoid going hungry. But of actual sustained hunger, there is no evidence.

There is, on the other hand, a lot of evidence of obesity among the poor; their obesity rate is estimated at 36%, and the obesity rate among poor children seems to be about twice the rate among non-poor children. The poor people are eating more calories than they need. Yet we propose to stimulate the economy by giving the poor money that can only be spent on more food.

But if you cede hunger as an issue, you lose political appeal.

UPDATE: Tom Maguire boldly defends food stamps.