I did a search trying to find the source of this statistic. One of the first I found was Anderson Cooper's article. It and its comments constantly reference food banks, but not one reference to food stamps or the free and reduced lunch program. Nor is there any definition of what they mean by going hungry. (Does Weight Watchers count? As one of the commenters wrote "America is the only place I know that has 'hungry' people that are over weight")
Why does no one question this survey? It is treated like it is sacrosanct. Is it because the results support the conclusions they want to see? What constitutes hungry by their definition? I believe the original CNN survey was skewed deliberately with questions like "In the last year have you ever gone to bed hungry?" Even I can answer that one yes, but I was trying to avoid a late night snack that would give me reflux. And don't even get me started about the seven weeks I went without eating when I was receiving my cancer treatments - how would that count?
And how does anyone avoid the government food programs - especially the "Free and Reduced Lunch (and breakfast) Program"? I work in a school system and actually see the wasted food from the program - have you ever seen it? Of course this wasted food can't be reused, not even for the hogs, because it has been on a student's plate and then thrown away. This contributes so heavily to our refuse collection that we are having to retrofit our schools with trash compactor dumpsters.
Several of our schools have better than (better than?) 95% free lunch participation. Forget the reduced, it exists in name service only. Some of our schools even have a Summer drop-in for lunch program. Children may have lunch even if they are not in Summer school. For a child to go hungry in the United States requires a deliberate act of avoidance. But you cannot tell this 95% participation by the parent drop off lane. The cars driven are not the cheap beaters you would expect from a low income school - Mercedes and Lexus. What we really have, is like you say, misplaced priorities. But it is the misplaced priorities of the parents, not those of the government or the other members of society. The parents care more about the status of what they drive than how they feed their kids. But that is because we made it so they don't have to care - we will feed their children for them. That money is then free for toys and luxuries. This is turn weakens the family bond. Is that the real goal?
And Lucy, the food does miraculously appear on their kitchen tables. That is because of the current version of the food stamp program which is handled by an EBT card, so that the presenters don't even receive the scornful looks of the taxpayers at their over loaded carts. But, believe-it-or-not, there is resentment over this new system from the recipients. They can no longer have the change in cash to do with as they please. Bummer.