Still Hungry in America

Photographs by Al Clayton
Text by Robert Coles
Introduction by Edward M. Kennedy
New foreword by Thomas J. Ward Jr.

A challenging look at America as “the land of plenty”


"I am so grateful for the reissue of this extraordinary book—yet devastated that its message is still necessary today as it was fifty years ago. I hope Al Clayton’s moving images and Robert Coles’s powerful words will inspire a new generation to finally act to end preventable hunger in our wealthy nation."
—Marian Wright Edelman, president, Children's Defense Fund

"This book is a call for reflection, a call to examine our twenty-first-century priorities. As Martin Luther King Jr. stated, ‘Why should there be hunger and deprivation in any land, in any city, at any table, when man has the resources and the scientific know-how to provide all mankind with the basic necessities of life? There is no deficit in human resources. The deficit is in human will.'"
—Thomas J. Ward Jr., from the foreword

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Originally published in 1969, the documentary evidence of poverty and malnutrition in the American South showcased in Still Hungry in America still resonates today. The work was created to complement a July 1967 U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Employment, Manpower, and Poverty hearings on hunger in America. At those hearings, witnesses documented examples of deprivation afflicting hundreds of thousands of American families. The most powerful testimonies came from the authors of this profoundly disturbing and important book.

Al Clayton’s sensitive camerawork enabled the subcommittee members to see the agonizing results of insufficient food and improper diet, rendered graphically in stunted, weakened and fractured bones, dry, shrunken, and ulcerated skin, wasting muscles, and bloated legs and abdomens. Physician and child psychiatrist Robert Coles, who had worked with these populations for many years, described with fierce clarity the medical and psychological effects of hunger. Coles’s powerful narrative, reinforced by heartbreaking interviews with impoverished people and accompanied by 101 photographs taken by Clayton in Appalachia, rural Mississippi, and Atlanta, Georgia, convey the plight of the millions of hungry citizens in the most affluent nation on earth.

A new foreword by historian Thomas J. Ward Jr. analyzes food insecurity among today’s rural and urban poor and frames the current crisis in the American diet not as a scarcity of food but as an overabundance of empty calories leading to obesity, diabetes, and high blood pressure.

Southern Foodways Alliance Studies in Culture, People, and Place

Page count: 128 pp.
101 b&w photos
Trim size: 7.5 x 9


List price: $32.95

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Al Clayton (1934–2014) was one of America’s outstanding photographers and a founding member of the SFA. His photographs have appeared in such publications as LOOK, the Atlantic Monthly, TIME, and Newsweek.

Robert Coles is a professor emeritus at Harvard University and the author of Children of Crisis: A Study of Courage and Fear. His work has won numerous prizes, including a Pulitzer Prize, a MacArthur Award, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and the National Humanities Medal.

Edward M. Kennedy (1932–2009) was a U.S. senator, serving for forty-seven years.

Thomas J. Ward Jr. is the chair of the history department at Spring Hill College in Mobile, Alabama, and author of Black Physicians in the Jim Crow South and Out in the Rural: A Mississippi Health Center and Its War on Poverty.