Stamping Out Hunger in America
June 10, 2005
Last Tuesday was National Hunger Awareness Day which is a grassroots effort to raise awareness and donations to help end hunger in America. The U.S. is the land of plenty, and we produce the safest and most abundant food supply in the world. But there are still those who do not always have the means to feed themselves or their families in our very own communities. National Hunger Awareness Day serves to remind us that we must constantly work to prevent hunger in our country and there are many ways that we are doing that.
Federal government programs have been designed to provide food assistance to adults and children. These include the National School Lunch Program, Food Stamp Program, Women, Infants and Children (WIC), the Emergency Food Assistance Program and the Nutrition Services Incentives Program. Last year, almost 8 million women and children participated in WIC in the U.S. and over 131,000 just in Virginia alone. WIC is a federal grant program that provides nutritious foods, nutrition counseling and referrals to health and other social services to low-income pregnant and postpartum women as well as infants and children under the age of five who are at nutrition risk.
Proper nutrition is essential to the growth and development of infants and children. Without the proper nutrients, children may lag behind their peers in both physical and cognitive development. The National School Lunch Program provides nutritionally balanced, low-cost or free lunches to children in more than 99,800 schools across the country. Over 700,000 children participated in the program in Virginia last year. Every child deserves the opportunity to grow and learn without hunger.
As Chairman of the House Committee on Agriculture, I have worked with my colleagues to pass legislation that creates and monitors federal nutrition programs to be sure they are well run. U.S. farmers and ranchers provide an abundant, safe and nutritious food supply and continue to share the bounty of their harvest with their fellow Americans.
Local community organizations and volunteers also aid in the fight against hunger. America's Second Harvest distributes food and grocery products through more than 200 food banks and food rescue organizations throughout the U.S. This year, the organization will celebrate its 25th year of operation and I commend their noble efforts. Local food banks, soup kitchens, and volunteers also contribute to efforts in our communities.
Congress will continue to evaluate our federal domestic food support programs to ensure that they reach those in need in the most effective manner while combating fraud and abuse. The fight against hunger in the U.S. is ongoing, but I am confident that with the help of organizations like America's Second Harvest and contributions from food producers and volunteers, we can stamp out hunger in America for good.