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 access and availability of healthy foods to Americans, especially those living in underserved communities. The hearing also explored innovative ways to improve the availability of nutritious foods and promote obesity prevention efforts. Two well known celebrity chefs committed to healthy eating, the Food Network's Ellie Krieger and Bravo's Rocco DiSpirito, gave insightful testimony on ways to increase access to healthy foods and improve nutrition education in America's schools. Additional testimony was heard from the USDA Under Secretary for Food and Nutrition Kevin Concannon, USDA economist Michele Ver Ploeg, Ms. Vicki Escarra, the President and CEO of Feeding America, Mr. Randall Wattermann of the Nebraska Food Cooperative, Mr. Jeffrey Brown, the President and CEO of Brown's Super Stores, and Ms. Diana Endicott of Good Natured Family Farms.
"Better access to affordable, healthy, and fresh foods is absolutely critical to addressing the obesity epidemic in many of our underserved communities," said Rep. Baca. "First Lady Michelle Obama has done a great job of brining awareness to the issue of childhood obesity, and I am pleased the Subcommittee was able to explore the connection between poor food access and obesity. With obesity related health care costing our nation over $147 billion annually, we must tackle this problem now or face the devastating fiscal and public health consequences later."
The hearing emphasized unique and innovative ways to increase access to nutritious and fresh foods in America's underserved urban and rural communities, where many residents received federal nutrition benefit assistance. Testimony from expert witnesses was given with a particular view on improving the staggering childhood and adult obesity rates present in America.
"The excellent witnesses at today's hearing, including chef's Ellie Krieger and Rocco DiSpirito, discussed exciting opportunities to promote access to nutritious foods, and educate children, parents, and communities on fun and effective ways to keep a healthy diet," concluded Rep. Joe Baca. "With obesity related costs expected to hit $1 trillion annually by the year 2030 -- we need to realize that if left unchecked, this health crisis can literally bankrupt our nation. Today's hearing was an important step in recognizing the seriousness of the obesity crisis, and working towards preventative solutions, like improving food access, to make America a healthier nation."
Testimony and written statements submitted by the witnesses can be found online on the Committee's website: http://agriculture.house.gov/hearings/statements.html.