January 24, 2012

This evening President Obama delivered his State of the Union Address to Congress and the nation. The President spoke about the need to restore the American values of responsibility and fairness for all in order to ensure opportunity for all Americans.

Those values have been compromised in recent years by a struggling economy that has left 1 in 6 men, women and children in America at risk of hunger. There is no greater evidence of the need for long-term solutions to restore opportunity than the number of Americans struggling to put food on the table, including a number of middle class families seeking food assistance for the first time.

Feeding America strongly believes that feeding our neighbors is a shared responsibility. We are grateful for the many volunteers and donors who support our work in communities around the country, enabling us to feed 37 million Americans each year. We are also grateful that this value of shared responsibility is reflected in our federal budget through important anti-hunger programs like SNAP/food stamps, TEFAP, CSFP, and WIC. We need the Administration and Congress to commit to ensuring that those confronting the greatest risks are not left behind as our nation looks to the future.

The President laid out his vision for investing in skills for American workers, but we are sobered by the reminder that it does not matter what kind of educational and training opportunities we provide if Americans do not have enough to eat. Children cannot learn if they are hungry, and workers cannot reach their fullest potential if they cannot afford to provide enough food for their families. That is why any investment in the future of America must be coupled with an investment in reducing hunger.

The annual cost of our nation's hunger problem is estimated at over $167 billion per year in reduced educational outcomes, lost worker productivity, and increased health care costs. Fortunately, federal anti-hunger programs are an effective preventative investment that protect against hunger and promote nutrition and enable children and adults to reach their fullest potential.

Investing in nutrition programs is an investment in American values and an investment in America's future. As a people that values helping our neighbors, there is no more fundamental expression of that value than to feed our most vulnerable citizens. And a country that promises a future filled with hope and opportunity for every citizen must be a country that invests in fighting hunger, because the long-term health of our nation lies in the health of its people. We urge our nation's leaders to work together to defend federal anti-hunger programs and to make sure that these vital programs, firmly grounded in American values, remain in place to protect hungry Americans.


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