(Nov. 27) The country’s largest charitable domestic hunger-relief organization is upset that the latest government report on the number of Americans who do and don’t get enough food leaves out a key word: “hunger.”

On Nov. 15, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service released its annual report tracking hungry Americans, “Household Food Security in the United States, 2005.”

For the first time in the report’s 11-year history, the classification for people who don’t get enough to eat did not include the word "hunger." For "food insecurity" and "food insecurity with hunger," the USDA substituted "low food security" and "very low food security."

That doesn’t sit well with America’s Second Harvest, Chicago, a hunger-relief organization with more than 200 member food banks and food-rescue organizations that give away about a half-billion pounds of donated fruits and vegetables every year.

"It’s like talking about war and not using the word ‘war,’” said Ross Fraser, an America’s Second Harvest spokesman. “It obfuscates the issue.”

In a statement released Nov. 17, Vicki Escarra, America’s Second Harvest’s president and chief executive officer, said the new USDA classification misses the fact that her organization provides food to millions of Americans who suffer from hunger.

"Words have meaning, and meaning matters," Escarra said. "Referring to the state in which individuals and families do not have access to adequate food as anything other than hunger is simply demeaning."

Margaret Andrews, a USDA economist and one of the report’s authors, said that after a long review process with a panel of nutritionists, social scientists and other professionals, the department decided to drop the word "hunger" because it meant different things to different people.