December 22, 2008

WASHINGTON (Dec. 22, 2008) – In two joint letters sent today, National Farmers Union (NFU) and Feeding America called on President-elect Barack Obama and current Secretary of Agriculture Ed Schafer to take immediate actions to ensure the availability of a sufficient food supply for all Americans.

In light of the current economic conditions facing the country, the organizations called upon the current administration to release food commodities and funding from the Commodity Credit Corporation and Section 32 immediately in order to provide critical relief to emergency food assistance providers. They then called on President-elect Obama to continue these efforts and to include emergency food assistance funding in any economic recovery package.

More and more Americans are turning to food banks, soup kitchens, and food pantries to put food on their tables during difficult economic times. In an updated survey completed this week, Feeding America food banks reported an average increased demand of 30 percent over the previous 12 months. Even more troublesome, a number of these food banks have reported that the largest spikes in demand have occurred during the last quarter of 2008.

"Food is not an optional commodity for anyone, regardless of income demographics. As a farmer from Indiana and a national farm leader, I find it appalling that anyone in America or the world goes to bed hungry," said NFU President Tom Buis.

Buis said the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is in a position to help alleviate the crisis occurring in many communities across the country."We do not have the luxury of time in addressing this ever-growing problem. Many authorities exist at USDA that could provide immediate relief to hungry Americans," Buis said.

"We are in a national crisis," said Vicki Escarra, president and chief executive officer of Feeding America."Unemployment is the primary reason for the most recent increases in requests for emergency food assistance. Projections indicate that unemployment is likely to get worse in the near future, so we do not anticipate the increases in demands reversing anytime soon. We need immediate relief in an economic recovery package."


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