In the past, religious and community groups were the main forces addressing hunger. But, after the economic recession in the early 1980s, and due to budget cuts to federal programs under Ronald Reagan, an entire industry has arisen around providing food to the needy. Meanwhile, chronic hunger persists across the U.S. In fact, the number of food insecure Americans has risen—from 10 percent in 2002 to 13 percent today.

Yes, anti-hunger leaders have been effective at maintaining funding for SNAP [AKA food stamps] and increasing the number of food banks, and federal food programs have remained intact while other anti-poverty programs have been eliminated or slashed. And Andy Fisher, Civil Eats contributor and author of the new book, Big Hunger: The Unholy Alliance between Corporate America and Anti-Hunger Groups, does see those things as progress. But, he argues that anti-hunger advocates are missing an essential point: That hunger is not an isolated problem, but the product of much larger economic inequality driven by low wages.