Anne Goodman, Executive Director of the Cleveland Foodbank, a member of the Feeding America network, testified before the Senate Agriculture Committee today. The hearing, Healthy Food Initiatives, Local Production, and Nutrition, explored Farm Bill nutrition programs. Goodman talked about the growing need for food assistance that food banks have experienced and at the same time that food banks across the nation have seen a significant decline in federal food commodities.
"Demand continues to increase even as we have begun to see a decline in unemployment in Ohio. Many of the new faces of hunger have run out of unemployment benefits, exhausted their savings, or have had to take jobs paying far less than they were making before the recession," Goodman said."The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) provides some of the most nutritious food we distribute. Unfortunately, TEFAP actually declined markedly in our time of greatest need."
The Feeding America network of more than 200 member food banks nationwide saw a 46 percent increase in the number of clients served from 2006 to 2010. Feeding America food banks saw TEFAP food decline by 30 percent in 2011. Goodman urged the committee to provide additional TEFAP support in the upcoming Farm Bill reauthorization.
"No other sources are increasing to fill that gap, and more federal TEFAP support is urgently needed. With TEFAP declines expected to continue and the need for food assistance expected to remain high, I worry about our ability to meet the needs of the clients we serve," Goodman said.
Goodman also urged Congress to protect the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). SNAP serves 46 million participants nationwide and is targeted to help our nation's most vulnerable. 76 percent of SNAP households included a child, elderly person, or disabled person, and these households receive 84 percent of all SNAP benefits. As the number of unemployed people increased by 94 percent from 2007 to 2011, SNAP responded with a 70 percent increase in participation over the same period.
"One of the greatest success stories of the recent recession is how effectively SNAP responded to protect families from hunger," Goodman said."This program is working as intended to provide benefits that are timely, targeted, and temporary. I can tell you for certain that charity could not make up the difference if SNAP benefits or eligibility were cut. Any cuts to SNAP benefits or eligibility would only increase the overwhelming need we are already seeing. Congress must protect this important program."
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and other witnesses also provided testimony. More information about the hearing and witnesses is below.
Hon. Tom Vilsack
United States Department of Agriculture
Mr. Dan Carmody
Eastern Market Corporation
Detroit , MI
Ms. Anne Goodman
President and CEO
Cleveland , OH
Mr. Ron McCormick
Senior Director of Local Sourcing & Sustainable Agriculture
Walmart Stores, Inc.
Mr. John Weidman
Deputy Executive Director
Mr. Jody Hardin
Grady , AR
Please visit the following link to find out more information about the hearing, Healthy Food Initiatives, Local Production, and Nutrition: http://www.ag.senate.gov/hearings/healthy-food-initiatives-local-production-and-nutrition.
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