Hunger in a land of plenty

In the 1950s and 1960s, the nation enjoyed an unprecedented abundance of food; nevertheless, many Americans went hungry. The Food Stamp Act of 1964 promised “a fuller and more effective use of food abundances,” but hunger remained an intransient problem—and how to solve it, a source of ongoing political debate.

USDA School Breakfast, 1967

USDA School Breakfast, 1967

Courtesy of U.S. Department of Agriculture

Food stamps, 1970s

Food stamps, 1970s

Change token, 1970s

Change token, 1970s

Change token, 1970s

Change token, 1970s

Applying for assistance in Baltimore, 1975

Applying for assistance in Baltimore, 1975

Courtesy of Library of Congress

Black Panther food bank, 1972© 2015 Steven Shames/Polaris Images

Black Panther food bank, 1972

© 2015 Steven Shames/Polaris Images

Even as millions of Americans relied on food stamps, groups as diverse as the Black Panthers and the U.S. Department of Agriculture launched free food programs to bridge the persistent food gap.