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Public Statements

Weekends Without Hunger Act

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Ms. BERKLEY. Mr. Speaker, I rise today in support of H.R. 5012, the Weekends Without Hunger Act. I want to personally and forcefully thank Congresswoman Dina Titus for introducing this important piece of legislation.

Congresswoman Titus and I share southern Nevada as our adjoining congressional districts. Let me tell you what's happening there. We have a serious economic problem. Almost 20 percent of the people I represent have no work. That translates and transfers down to their children, who are having very serious times, as are their parents.

For so many children in the Clark County School District, the only meals they are getting, the only hot meals they are getting, the only meals and nutrition of any kind, are the ones they are receiving in school. So, many of the schools in Clark County are now not only serving a lunch to their schoolchildren, they are also serving breakfast as well. So many of our youngsters are showing up at school with an empty stomach because they have nothing to eat at home. Try learning when you're 5, 6, 7, 8 years old, when your tummy is grumbling as you sit in your class. It's not possible to do.

I attended a school, Whitney Elementary School, and went into one of the trailers that the principal escorted me to. It was filled with food. And I commented, Why is there so much food in this trailer? And she told me 70 percent--let me say that again--70 percent of the children in this elementary school are homeless. They are living on the streets with their parents. They are living in cars. They do not have a stable home. If they don't have a stable home, I'll bet you dollars to doughnuts that they haven't got anything to eat.

This program, this pilot program that Congresswoman Dina Titus has introduced, would provide a 5-year pilot that would provide commodities to eligible institutions, such as schools and food banks, to carry out projects that provide nutritious food to at-risk schoolchildren over the weekend and school holidays.

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It is incomprehensible to me that in a country of such wealth and great abundance that we have literally hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of children going to bed hungry and having to depend on their schools in order to get anything to eat. This school backpack program that provides children with food to take home over the weekend is going to be the difference between their survival and not. I cannot tell you how much I admire Dina Titus for introducing this. I wish I'd thought of it myself.

Let us pass this bill, and let's pass it fast.

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