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Public Statements

Celebrating World Food Day

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

Mr. BUTTERFIELD. Let me thank the Speaker for yielding time to me this morning.

As I begin my remarks, Mr. Speaker, I just want to make a brief remark about one of the preceding speakers, Congresswoman Barbara Lee from Oakland, California, who has been an advocate for poverty, food insecurity, human rights, and all of the global issues that we have talked about over the years. And I want to thank her for her leadership on this very important issue. Congresswoman Lee is the founder of the Out of Poverty Caucus here in the House of Representatives, and I am honored to serve as one of her cochairs.

But the Congresswoman is absolutely correct; on this Sunday, October 16, we will celebrate World Food Day, a day to increase awareness, understanding, and informed, year-round action to alleviate hunger across the globe and in our neighborhoods.

The statistical evidence of pervasive and persistent hunger is absolutely staggering, notwithstanding the human stories of working families in my communities of eastern North Carolina or families in eastern Africa who cannot get enough food to eat on a daily basis.

And so I want to take this opportunity to remind all the Members of this body that millions of Americans, millions of people suffer from hunger; and unless we commit to eliminating this scourge, these human beings will suffer persistent poverty, reduced rights, and even death. We must come together, Mr. Speaker, to make hunger and nutrition issues, these issues, a priority. It is a priority in my hometown of Wilson, North Carolina. We have a food bank in my community. It is administered by the Wilson OIC, the Wilson Opportunity Industrialization Center.

On at least four occasions, on each occasion each year, this center is responsible for passing out food to those suffering from food insecurity. I have here to my right simply a picture of the last food program in which citizens of our community lined up all night long to receive food in this community. You will see this building. It is a former school. Actually, I went to elementary school there many years ago. This was my first-grade classroom, Congresswoman Lee. This is a former elementary school. It is now the Wilson OIC, and citizens lined up all night long in order to receive food from this program.

What a shame.

But thank you, OIC, for your effort.

Nine hundred twenty-five million people suffer from chronic hunger worldwide--one in seven people. That is an atrocious statistic. Shockingly, in 2011, there is still severe starvation. The worst drought in 60 years caused widespread hunger and starvation across the Horn of Africa, and we need to pay attention to the Horn of Africa. Globally, 12 million people are in danger of starving to death, and children are especially vulnerable.

In the United States--the richest country in the world, the richest country that we've ever known--in our beloved country, 48 million people live in food insecure households, and these are yet examples of that. That is one in six people in our country who suffer from food insecurity. The recession that we talk about on this floor every day has exacerbated the plight of many, but the problems with food insecurity began well before 2007. Since the year 2000, the number of people classified by USDA as having very low food security has doubled. My district has been recently classified as the second most insecure district in the country.

The Federal Government certainly needs to find ways to cut costs and reduce spending, but that burden should not fall heaviest on the people with the greatest needs. We need to continue our investments in agriculture research to empower scientists to develop more efficient and sustainable methods of production. We should maintain and improve our commitments to foreign aid programs through USAID, improving them to provide greater access to needed resources.

Finally, Mr. Speaker, my predecessor in this office, former Congresswoman Eva Clayton, was a strong, clear voice on behalf of the hungry of the country and those abroad. During her 10 years in Congress, she was staunchly committed to improving access and the quality of food stamps, WIC, and other programs. Following her retirement, she was appointed the assistant director of the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization.

In this astounding legacy, we will be introducing legislation, probably tomorrow, to honor the work of Eva Clayton: The Eva Clayton Fellows Program Act of 2011. This is a wonderful program. I urge my colleagues to pay attention to the introduction of this bill. It will be significant.


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