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Letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), and the Chairmen and Ranking Commitee Members

Letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), and the Chairmen and Ranking Members of Both the Senate Finance Committee and the Senate Agriculture Committee

Durbin Urges Senate Agriculture Committee to Strengthen Nutrition Title in 2007 Farm Bill

U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) led a bipartisan effort of thirty U.S. Senate members in sending a letter late last night to the Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), and the Chairmen and Ranking Members of both the Senate Finance Committee and the Senate Agriculture Committee to urge support for a strong investment in the Nutrition Title for the 2007 reauthorization of the Farm Bill.

"We have seen a rise in hunger and food insecurity as our fellow Americans struggle to make ends meet. USDA/Census Bureau survey data show that there are more than 35 million people in the United States who live in households facing hunger," the Senators wrote. "Boosting investment in federal food assistance programs and important local hunger relief activities will go a long way toward reducing hunger in cities and towns across the nation."

Furthermore, they noted, "Hunger is not a partisan issue, and we now have the opportunity to repair the holes in our nation's nutrition safety net. We strongly urge you to move our nation closer to a hunger-free America and support a strong Nutrition title in the upcoming Farm bill."

Other signatories to today's letter include: Senators Daniel Akaka (D-HI), Joseph Biden (D-DE), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Bob Casey (D-PA), Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY), Susan Collins (R-ME), Chris Dodd (D-CT), Elizabeth Dole (R-NC), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Daniel Inouye (D-HI), Edward Kennedy (D-MA), John Kerry (D-MA), Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), Carl Levin (D-MI), Joe Lieberman (ID-CT), Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Bill Nelson (D-FL), Barack Obama (D-IL), Jack Reed (D-RI), John Rockefeller (D-WV), Bernard Sanders (D-VT), Charles Schumer (D-NY), Gordon Smith (R-OR), Olympia Snowe (R-ME), Arlen Specter (R-PA), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Ron Wyden (D-OR).

Text of letter appears below:

Dear Senators:

We write to urge your support for a strong investment in the Nutrition Title for the 2007 reauthorization of the Farm Bill.

The nutrition provisions in H.R. 2419, The Farm, Nutrition, and Bioenergy Act of 2007, include more than $4 billion over five years in improvements for numerous food assistance programs' oversight, reauthorization, and technical provisions. We encourage you to provide at least as much funding for federal food assistance activities as the House-passed Farm Bill to better address the nutritional needs of low-income families and to reduce hunger in the United States.

In recent years, we have seen a rise in hunger and food insecurity as our fellow Americans struggle to make ends meet. USDA/Census Bureau survey data show that there are more than 35 million people in the United States who live in households facing hunger. Rising food, housing, medical, and fuel costs have made it difficult for many families in our nation to afford a healthy and nutritious diet.

The nutrition title of the new Farm Bill is critical to alleviating hunger in our nation. The value of Food Stamp benefits has eroded with inflation, and outdated eligibility criteria have made it difficult for many low-income families to qualify for much-needed food. Moreover, growing numbers of people ineligible for food stamps, or unable to make their food stamp benefits last throughout the month, are seeking help from food banks, pantries, and thousands of local emergency feeding organizations across the country. Boosting investment in federal food assistance programs and important local hunger relief activities will go a long way toward reducing hunger in cities and towns across the nation.

The Nutrition title of this Farm Bill will touch every community in America and can do much to reinvigorate our bi-partisan commitment to reducing hunger in our great nation. Hunger is not a partisan issue, and we now have the opportunity to repair the holes in our nation's nutrition safety net. We strongly urge you to move our nation closer to a hunger-free America and support a strong Nutrition title in the upcoming Farm bill.

Respectfully,


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