It meant then, as it does now-- that if you are hungry. you are not going to be happy. I don't mean hungry the way you get when you skip breakfast and have a late lunch. You're not going to be happy, or productive if you can't afford to eat.
It was a hard time in the world and the common family has trouble buying food. If all of your money goes to rent and food, then how can you afford to buy anything else?
This isn't an ancient problem that only poor people in other countries have. This is an every day worry for millions of americans.
People are happy when they have food, home, and the time and money it takes to enjoy their hobbies. Just imagine that there are no jobs. You are starving, not just for the day, but all the time. You can't find a job. Your kids are starving.
Someone comes around and tells you they know a way to make things better. Put food in your belly and wine in your cup. You're going to listen to that guy.