KENNEDY DISCUSSES THE IMPACT OF HUNGER IN MASSACHUSETTS AT THE GREATER BOSTON FOOD BANK'S 25th ANNIVERSARY LUNCHEON
KENNEDY RECEIVES FOOD BANK'S FOUNDER'S AWARD
Senator Edward M. Kennedy today discussed the impact of hunger on people in the Commonwealth and received the Greater Boston Food Bank's Founder's Award to honor his leadership on the issues that most impact those who must turn to the emergency food system for help: minimum wage, education and job training, affordable housing, health care, nutrition programs, and social security. Senator Kennedy has been a lifelong advocate on poverty and hunger issues, working to expand the food stamp program, child nutrition programs, pre-natal nutrition, the Special Supplemental Program for Women, Infants, and Children, and elderly nutrition programs.
It's shameful that in the richest country on earth 14 million children go to bed hungry at night. Their hunger affects not only their nutritional needs. It affects their dignity and self-worth as well. They can't concentrate in school, so they often drop out. Some end up in trouble with the law, or even in prison," said Senator Kennedy. We must reduce hunger in the nation by improving and expanding federal nutrition programs. But we also have a responsibility to our fellow human beings to do all we can to ensure that all Americans share the fruits of our prosperity. That means strengthening educational opportunities to help people get good jobs. It means fighting for wages that ensure that no one who works for a living lives in poverty. It means affordable health care for all. It means all those things, and I commend all of you for leading the way."
Kip Tiernan, founder of The Greater Boston Food Bank, Vicary Graham, chair of The Greater Boston Food Bank, and Catherine D'Amato, president of The Greater Boston Food Bank presented the award to Senator Kennedy. Jim Perdue, chair of Perdue Farms Inc., honored Dan and Betsy Nally, the young founders of the nonprofit organization Turkeys 4 America, on the 10th anniversary of their first turkey drive. In November 1996 Dan and Betsythen ages 8 and 6collected 36 turkeys from their friends and neighbors to donate to the Greater Boston Food Bank after viewing a news story about a shortage of turkeys for needy families. Since that initial contribution to The Food Bank, Turkeys 4 America has grown into an annual event with chapters in the Midwest and West Coast. Last year Perdue Farms Inc. donated 1,000 turkeys to The Greater Boston Food Bank.
The Greater Boston Food Bank distributes over 25 million pounds of food annually to more than 600 hunger-relief agencies in a dedicated partnership to end hunger in eastern Massachusetts. The Food Bank serves 83,000 people each week. Established in 1981, The Food Bank celebrates its 25th anniversary this year.
Senator Kennedy continues to work to address the root causes of poverty by fighting for better educational opportunities, fair wages, and affordable health care. He has also introduced the "End Child Poverty Act" which sets a national goal of cutting child poverty in half within a decade, and eliminating it entirely as soon as possible thereafter.
Statement of Senator Edward M. Kennedy for the Greater Boston Food Bank 25th Anniversary Appreciation Luncheon
October 20, 2006
(As Prepared for Delivery)
The civil rights leader Ella J. Baker told of how as a child, her family was able to share their food with others. She said in sharing their food, she felt they were sharing their lives, too.
At the Greater Boston Food Bank, you share food with those who need it, but you also share your lives every day with those in our community who face hunger, need and loneliness.
You are a modern example of the biblical story of the loaves and the fishes. For every dollar donated, you provide five dollars of food to the hungry. You involve more than 600 partners and 12,000 volunteers who serve 83,000 people a week.
Your Brown Bag program provides seniors with supplemental bags of nutritious groceries.
The Kids Café serves wholesome meals to children after school.
One of my favorite initiatives is your competition on National Hunger Awareness Day, which I had a chance to visit last June. Corporations send in teams to see which company can sort the most food. When I visited, my money was on Cirelli Foods of Middleboro because they had won two years in a row. But the Hartford Financial Services Group managed to eke out a victory that year.
In this and so many other ways, you've made the Greater Boston Food Bank an instrument of hope for our communities and all of Massachusetts is in your debt.
Sadly, the number of our neighbors and fellow citizens who face hunger is growing. Today, 38 million Americans are hungry, an increase of 5 million in the past six years. A half million of those live in Eastern Massachusetts.
It's shameful that in the richest country on earth 14 million children go to bed hungry at night. Their hunger affects not only their nutritional needs. It affects their dignity and self-worth as well. They can't concentrate in school, so they often drop out. Some end up in trouble with the law, or even in prison.
Even middle class families can suddenly be affected. A job loss or a serious illness can overwhelm a family budget already strained by the high cost of housing or heating.
The elderly are vulnerable as well. Many of them have trouble getting by on fixed incomes. According to a recent study at Northeastern University, the number of seniors near or below poverty will rise from 6 million today to more than 8 million in the coming decade.
How we meet this challenge is not just a matter of feeding people. It is a measure of our humanity as well.
We must provide day-to-day sustenance for those who need it. But we are also obligated to do all we can to end hunger. Government, corporations, communities, religious groups, and individual citizens need to work together to develop more effective policies and faster responses, and the Greater Boston Food Bank is a shining example of the potential of these partnerships.
A decade ago, the Clinton Administration launched an effort to cut hunger in half in the United States by 2010, and the strong economy in those years helped us make significant progress toward that goal.
Now, however, the economy is weaker. The safety net is riddled with holes, and many Americans are falling through it.
We know how to mend it. We know it can be done. All we need is the will to do it. We must reduce hunger in the nation by improving and expanding federal nutrition programs. But we also have a responsibility to our fellow human beings to do all we can to ensure that all Americans share the fruits of our prosperity. That means strengthening educational opportunities to help people get good jobs. It means fighting for wages that ensure that no one who works for a living lives in poverty. It means affordable health care for all. It means all those things, and I commend all of you for leading the way.
Thank you so much for this Award. You're the ones who really deserve it, and I'm deeply grateful for all you do so well.