Hunger Estimated to Cost America $90 Billion Annually
Congressman Joe Baca (D-Rialto) today convened a hearing of the House Agriculture Committee's Subcommittee on Department Operations, Oversight, Nutrition and Forestry, which he chairs in the 110th Congress.
Today's hearing investigated the short and long-term effects of hunger in America. Testimony was heard from Dr. Mark Nord from the USDA's Economic Research Service, Dr. J. Larry Brown from the Harvard University School of Public Health, Dr. Diana Cutts with the Children's Sentinel Nutrition Assessment Program (C-SNAP), George Manalo-LeClair, with the California Food Policy Advocates, and James D. Weill, President, Food Research and Action Center.
"Hunger in America is all too real a problem that affects not only the health of the more than 35 million Americans classified as food insecure, but also the health of our local economies and communities," said Rep. Baca. "With the total cost of hunger to be estimated at $90 billion annually, we must be pro-active in searching for a solution. Especially with today's rising food and energy costs, America's children and families cannot wait any longer for vital nutrition assistance."
The hearing emphasized the link between hunger and increased costs to the American public, especially in the areas of lost worker productivity, charitable giving, and additional health and medical costs. All total, it is estimated that hunger costs the American public $90 billion annually. The hearing also examined the positive economic stimulus that nutrition assistance, and in particular food stamps, can provide. It is estimated that because of low-food stamp participation, the state of California alone loses out on $4 billion annually that would be reinvested in local businesses.
"In a country as wealthy as ours, hunger is both unnecessary and immoral," concluded Rep. Baca. "We must continue to invest in federal nutrition programs, like food stamps, which help to feed needy Americans and at the same time get our economy moving in the right direction again."
Testimony and written statements submitted by the witnesses can be found online on the Committee's website: http://agriculture.house.gov/hearings/statements.html.