Mediaplanet: Do we, as Americans, have a right to food?

Abby J. Leibman: No court in the United States today would likely uphold the right to food. But many of the rights we enjoy today exist only because as we have evolved as a nation, so too have our laws, our Constitution and the interpretations of both by our courts. The first step in that evolution is recognizing the need to secure a right under the law. Given the staggering number of Americans struggling to put food on the table, we are long overdue in recognizing that need.

MP: Why does America need a front-line defense to hunger?

AJL: It is unacceptable that in 2015, in the richest country in the world, one in six Americans can’t rely on having enough nutritious food to lead a healthy, productive life. That’s more food insecure Americans than the entire population of Canada.

"It is our government’s obligation to deliver on the commitment we’ve made to one another and to ensure that no American falls through the cracks."

Our nation’s “front-line” — namely, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) — protects us from the kind of mass starvation you might see in the streets of a third world country.

MP: How can the government assist charity in the fight against hunger in America?

AJL: People often fall into the trap of assuming that charity bears primary responsibility for providing for our nation’s most vulnerable — a misconception that puts inordinate pressure on a sector that was never intended to shoulder such an enormous burden. In reality, it is our government’s obligation to deliver on the commitment we’ve made to one another and to ensure that no American falls through the cracks.

MP: What is one simple way readers can assist charity in the fight against hunger in America?

AJL: The best thing anyone can do to end hunger is to recognize the primacy of the government’s role in prioritizing the needs of our nation’s most vulnerable, and then to hold policymakers accountable for failing to fulfill that responsibility.