The leaders of Feeding America and Share Our Strength today announced that they are joining a national fast to protest proposed cuts to federal programs that provide food and other assistance to millions of Americans who live at risk of hunger.
On Monday, Vicki Escarra, president and CEO of Feeding America, and Bill Shore, executive director and founder of Share Our Strength, invited their staff, network members, and supporters to join them in a rolling fast beginning today, including over 200 food banks and tens of thousands of advocates nationwide.
Last week, Ambassador Tony Hall at the Alliance to End Hunger, David Beckmann of Bread for the World, and other anti-hunger leaders began a fast to bring awareness to the impact that proposed budget cuts would have on vulnerable people. Inspired by their colleagues, Escarra and Shore joined the fast this week to keep the momentum growing as Congress continues deliberations about funding for critical programs.
Congress must finalize funding for Fiscal Year 2011 by Friday, April 8, or risk a government shutdown, and the House is expected to begin debate on the Fiscal Year 2012 budget this week. Nutrition assistance and other safety-net programs that protect low-income people are being eyed for cuts as Congress seeks to reduce the federal deficit.
"Each year Feeding America sees more than 37 million people come to the food pantries, soup kitchens, and emergency shelters we serve, and frankly our food banks are struggling to keep up with a 46 percent increase in requests for food assistance since 2006," Escarra said."We have enormous help from our corporate partners and individual donors, but charity alone cannot provide enough food to ensure that everyone who needs help gets three square meals a day -- federal nutrition programs must be safeguarded from cuts."
"Congress's proposed cuts to food and nutrition programs come at a time when 47 million Americans live below the poverty line, and 19 million live in extreme poverty," said Share Our Strength's Shore."It is hard to imagine a more dire set of circumstances, and a more compelling reason to make a statement on behalf of those most voiceless."
Today's joint fast by the Feeding America and Share Our Strength networks launches a rolling fast throughout the month of April, so that someone in their networks is fasting at all times. The organizations chose to conduct a rolling fast because it couples individual acts of sacrifice within a community of shared responsibility.
"With unemployment still hovering near 9 percent and food and gas prices on the rise, millions of families are struggling to make ends meet," Escarra said."Vulnerable Americans have given enough, losing their jobs and in some cases their home, not knowing how they will provide enough food for their families. Cutting funding for nutrition assistance and other safety-net programs would pull the rug out from underneath our most vulnerable families at a time when they need help the most. Congress must not balance the budget on the backs of our most vulnerable citizens."
"Fasting is a personal decision, but the real power of a fast is that it brings urgency to an issue that is often overlooked," said Shore."Whether individuals choose to fast or to spread the word to friends and colleagues or contact elected officials, we can stand together to say we can do better for America's children."
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Feeding America® is the largest hunger-relief organization in the United States. Through a network of 200 food banks and 60,000 food pantries and meal programs, we provide meals to more than 46 million people each year. Feeding America also supports programs that prevent food waste and improve food security among the people we serve; educates the public about the problem of hunger; and advocates for legislation that protects people from going hungry. Individuals, charities, businesses and government all have a role in ending hunger. Donate. Volunteer. Advocate. Educate. Together we can solve hunger. Visit www.feedingamerica.org, find us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.
Feeding America is collecting pledges of participation in the fast at http://www.hungeractioncenter.org/register_fasting.aspx.
Share Our Strength is collecting commitments at http://nokidhungry.org/action/join-hunger-fast.
Follow the Hunger Fast on Twitter using hashtag #HungerFast.
About Share Our Strength
Share Our Strength®, a national nonprofit, is ending childhood hunger in America by connecting children with the nutritious food they need to lead healthy, active lives. Through its No Kid Hungry® Campaign–a national effort to end childhood hunger in America by 2015– Share Our Strength ensures children in need are enrolled in federal nutrition programs, invests in community organizations fighting hunger, teaches families how to cook healthy, affordable meals, and builds public-private partnerships to end hunger, nationally and at the state and city levels. Visit www.Strength.org to get involved.