Baca Chairs First Ever Hearing to Explore Effectiveness of Critical Nutrition Program.
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 111th Congress.
Today's hearing reviewed the current effectiveness of the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR). The FDPIR is a commodity food program run by the USDA, in which agricultural commodities are given to participating states and Indian Tribal Organizations (ITOs) to be distributed to eligible Native Americans. Witnesses at today's hearing included the Undersecretary for Food and Nutrition Services at the USDA, Kevin Concannon, as well as tribal leaders from both the Cherokee Nation in Oklahoma, and the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians in Oregon.
"The rates of obesity and chronic diseases are staggeringly high in too many of our tribal communities," said Rep. Baca. "Strengthening education on and access to nutritional foods is necessary to improving the health of all people, but especially critical to the future of our Native American population. Today's hearing was an excellent opportunity to learn more about FDPIR, and what program improvements need to be made in order to best serve the nutritional and long-term health needs of our tribal communities."
The hearing placed particular emphasis on reviewing current funding levels, administrative costs, and cultural and geographic concerns surrounding FDPIR, and what steps Congress can proactively take to improve the overall effectiveness of the program and increase nutrition and health for tribal communities. Currently the President has requested a $110 million budget request for the FDPIR for FY 2011.
"For far too long, Congress has failed to adequately review the effectiveness of the FDPIR and numerous other programs pertaining to the health of Native Americans," concluded Rep. Joe Baca. "I am proud to chair this historic hearing, allowing America's tribes to discuss this necessary program, and voice their needs and concerns regarding the larger public health issues of nutrition, obesity, and diabetes. Working together, we can better understand the unique needs of our tribal communities, and create a more effective system of ensuring Native Americans receive the proper nutrition they need to lead happy, healthy, and prosperous lives."
Testimony and written statements submitted by the witnesses can be found online on the Committee's website: http://agriculture.house.gov/hearings/statements.html.